Chris Culliver comments show why we shouldn't care about what athletes think

How much longer will we pretend that athletes' social and political opinions matter?

2/1/13 in NFL   |   Pat   |   5230 respect

Jan 30, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver (29) departs a press conference at the Marriott New Orleans  in advance of Super Bowl XLVII against the Baltimore Ravens. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY SportsMore often than not, athletes give rather vanilla answers to tough questions. They avoid controversy, they hedge their answers, they say things like "it is what it is," much to the chagrin of fans and reporters.

Sometimes, however, someone manages to catch an athlete in the right (or perhaps wrong) situation and they'll say something controversial.

At that point, people love to jump all over them, and act like the world is going to end when an athlete says something stupid.

The most recent example of this was when 49ers backup cornerback Chris Culliver made some disparaging comments about homosexuals during a Media Day interview with Artie Lange.

Keep in mind: This is a backup football player, being interviewed by a guy who is primarily known for being a flunky on shock jock Howard Stern's radio show.

Not surprisingly, Lange managed to coerce some offensive comments out of Culliver, and everyone was in a flurry about it. Like Gregg Doyel said so well in his column, Culliver played his ignorant role, and then the media and fans played their role. They took the bait hook, line, and sinker.

Can we stop and think about this for a second, though?

Why does anyone really care about what a football player has to say about social or political issues?

Seriously.

Genuinely caring about Culliver's opinions on homosexuality would be no different from caring about Hillary Clinton's vertical leap or Stephen Hawking's best time in the 40-yard dash.

It's absolutely ludicrous. Clinton's vertical leap has nothing to do with contributions to society, and doesn't reflect on anything she has done. Hawking's inability to run 40 yards, even if he wanted to, doesn't take anything away from the fact that he is one of the most brilliant scientific minds in the world.

There's no reason that any of us should care at all about those things.

In the same way, Culliver's views on homosexuality, or ANYTHING for that matter, are completely irrelevant.

Culliver's purpose in life is to play football. As long as he manages to prevent opposing offenses from making big plays, he has done his job.

Yes, of course we wish our athletes (and everyone else) would have intelligent and informed opinions on every subject imaginable. Just like I bet the Grandma from the AT&T commercial would like it if she were fast. But we can't expect everyone to be good at everything.

Unless and until Chris Culliver somehow proves that his opinions are educated and worthy of our attention, why should anyone be listening to what he has to say about anything other than football?
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2/2/13   |   kobe_lova   |   61292 respect

Why do athletes keep saying stupid sh** out loud? The end.

2/2/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Pat wrote:
I think it also applies to athletes endorsing political candidates, or any other time an athlete says anything about anything other than sports.

Unless they've shown some sort of expertise or extraordinary knowledge in a field, whatever it may be, why does their opinion matter?

I commend Brandon Ayanbadejo for campaigning for tolerance and acceptance for homosexuals, and I think Culliver's comments were despicable and absurd. I just don't think either of them deserve more of a platform merely because they're good at playing football.

By that logic, why do any of our opinions matter? Just like we do, famous people have the right to express their opinion (especially when asked, as Culliver was). The primary difference is that a famous person will receive more backlash, regardless of their position.

This is the story because: a.) the issue that Dan and franciskoiner touched on, b.) the fact that it's San Francisco, a very gay friendly city, and the 49ers, who I think were the first sports team to film an Its Gets Better video (which is now it's own controversy apparently), and c.) it's Super Bowl week, and something has to consume all that oxygen surrounding the game hype.

2/1/13   |   Pat   |   5230 respect

Dan_B wrote:
I think the only reason they are important is because every time an athlete makes a comment like that it makes it that much more difficult for closeted athletes to feel comfortable playing and/or coming out while in the league. 

I think it also applies to athletes endorsing political candidates, or any other time an athlete says anything about anything other than sports.

Unless they've shown some sort of expertise or extraordinary knowledge in a field, whatever it may be, why does their opinion matter?

I commend Brandon Ayanbadejo for campaigning for tolerance and acceptance for homosexuals, and I think Culliver's comments were despicable and absurd. I just don't think either of them deserve more of a platform merely because they're good at playing football.

2/1/13   |   franciskoiner   |   3 respect

Comments like this are not made in a vacuum. Yes, Chris Culliver is an young ignorant NFL player. In theory, his words don't matter. But in reality, he's saying what A LOT of fans and players are thinking. And in reality, his comments are a strike across the bow of closeted players, as Dan said. It simply adds to the culture of stigma, of embarrassment, that non-straight players feel, and makes it that much harder to come out of the closet. 

So yeah. Individually, who cares about Chris Culliver? But this isn't about Chris Culliver. It's about homophobia in sports.

2/1/13   |   Dan_B   |   1067 respect

I think the only reason they are important is because every time an athlete makes a comment like that it makes it that much more difficult for closeted athletes to feel comfortable playing and/or coming out while in the league.