Kinder: Smart, gay athletes and baseball

By Joshua Kinder

Just a few thoughts from the sports weekend that was and what lies ahead…

• Missouri defensive end Michael Sam came out Sunday, becoming the first openly gay NFL draft prospect. Good for him. Good for the NFL. Good for America. Sam took the first step for more athletes — professional and amateur — to come out. I hope Sam’s amazing courage inspires others to follow.

It’s time.

I find it ridiculous some people actually believe gay athletes don’t already exist in the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball and college sports.

The LGBT community is part of our community whether you like it or not. They’re your neighbors, employees, doctors, bosses, your kids’ teacher, maybe your minister, son or daughter, your governor, your best friend, or even your favorite athlete you root for every Sunday afternoon — and you just don’t know it.

That’s still a scary thought for many in Kansas and Manhattan, I know, so if they want to run for the hills now, go ahead — I won’t stop them.

• The Sochi Winter Olympics kicked off last week. Only 14 days until they’re over. I can’t wait. Not even a high-octane curling match between Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt could pique my interest.


• Pitchers and catchers for all MLB teams reported Saturday. So happy.


• We don’t know what we don’t know.  But what we’ve heard is Manhattan High boys’ basketball coach Tim Brooks is being investigated for his use of language and having a negative attitude.

There may or may not be more to that, we just don’t know right now. But…

This is 2014 right? The last time I checked, high school coaches yelling at athletes, even cussing, isn’t a new thing.

Odds are, if you have ever played high school sports, in any era, you’ve been yelled at and heard a coach use “bad words.” Those are odds I want because I can’t name a coach from my youth who didn’t yell and use descriptive language to get a point across.

Coaches yell and occasionally cuss. That comes with playing competitive sports at that level. I don’t condone name-calling or verbal abuse. There is a difference. Though in today’s hypersensitive society, the line gets blurred because people’s feelings are hurt so easily.


• The second installment of the Sunflower Showdown is tonight at Bramlage Coliseum. Kansas State’s best chance at beating rival Kansas might be to imagine the Jayhawks wearing Longhorns jerseys. No matter how good the Wildcats can look against Texas, Gonzaga or even Oklahoma State, there’s something that happens when they play the Jayhawks. Pick a year. I’ve seen it way too many times.

Just when you think K-State has a shot against KU, all hope fades before halftime. Good K-State teams with some great players have looked short of average against the Jayhawks.

One thing is certain, though — there will be 12,000-strong hoping I’m wrong packed into Bramlage tonight.


• Do you realize K-State’s baseball season gets underway this Friday? I know they start on the road for the first couple weeks, but at the rate we’re getting snow this winter, it would be wise for the Wildcats to invest in some moonboots and ski bibs before their home opener on Feb. 28 against Milwaukee. Fourteen inches of snow on the ground — that’s a Tuesday in Milwaukee, so you know our visitors will be prepared.


• Marcus Smart sure didn’t live up to his name on Saturday. I don’t care what the idiot Texas Tech fan said to the Oklahoma State star, no player should ever, ever go into the stands, let alone shove or hit a fan, even if he deserves it. That goes for the media too — no athlete should ever shove a sports writer for something he wrote in a column (hint, hint).

I did appreciate Smart’s apology on Sunday. He accepted responsibility for his actions — the Big 12 also suspended him three games — and he seemed to understand the magnitude of the situation.

Time will tell if he learns from this, but it’s a chance I’m willing to take on the kid, even if he is a flopper.

The Texas Tech fan? Hopefully he learns from this situation too, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

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