I’ll never have a vertical worth remembering. If in my adult life I reach a point I jump higher than my 5 year old, I will remember it as a lifetime accomplishment. I do remember a split second of time though that I could have beaten a career Olympian. I remember that time in the summer of ’99. I remember that time when Sean Elliott jumped up in the paint to celebrate after Spree missed the final shot. I remember when little Avery Johnson jumped a little bit higher than Sean after that, though just enough to ensure Sean had to grab him before Avery just kept floating up to the rafters of The Garden. I remember the jumping role players in the ensuing scrum, guys like Elie, Rose, and Kerr, those that hit enough jump shots and threes to keep the Spurs in the game. I remember the jumping high fives when Stern proceeded to give the Spurs their first ever Championship Trophy. I remember Avery jumping into Timmy’s arms as the newcomer was being ordained the Finals MVP. I remember that it was the day that the San Antonio Spurs jumped from being just an ABA team to a team that may have a future. I also remember that on that day, I jumped so high in my living room that I brushed the ceiling with my head. It was the highest I had ever, or will ever jump.
When Tony Dungy stated that he would not have drafted Michael Sam, he may have honestly been talking purely from a football standpoint. It is true that Sam was already working on a deal with Oprah Winfrey to chronicle his journey from openly gay SEC defensive player of the year, to first openly gay player in an NFL locker room. Or, Dungy could have been speaking from his religious background, as someone that does not agree with the “lifestyle” of homosexuals. I believe it was a little bit of both. Unfortunately for Mr. Dungy, it is something that he is going to have to work through, something that only he himself can alter about his personality. I was not upset though with the quote, even though it was tinged with a hint of homophobia. My issue came not from the misguided quote, but from the terrible backlash that has risen from the quote. We are a society going through great change right now, something not seen since Jim Crow laws, the Civil Rights movement and school integration. I do not like really comparing that era to this one, as the amount of death and complete dehumanization between the two eras pale in comparison to each other. It is a time of societal upheaval though, and something that we need to work through together. By reacting negatively and calling someone all the negative things that go along with someone that does not accept the LGBT present in which we live, we are further distancing them from the rest of us. It is the opposite of what needs to happen. They must be embraced, and shown the love that each person would want shown to them. When it comes down to it, racism and homophobia are really just about being scared of the unknown. Tolerance is a word that many people forget the definition of. It is the “ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with”. Tolerance is a two way street. By attempting to force people to change their minds about things, all that is accomplished is the driving of that person further into the shell that they have created themselves, making it harder to show them that change is okay. And those people then just congregate with like-minded people, further reinforcing their hatreds and isolating themselves further from “enlightened” society. Then those people have children, and they are taught the same thing, and never learn any different, because they are not allowed to leave their little bubble. Change cannot be forced or legislated if we expect it to be global and fully embraced. Until those xenophobes are shown the patience and understanding it sometimes takes to coax someone out of their shells, we will never see complete acceptance, and those that hate will only have their hate grow.