Chris Clemons + Twitter + Equality = One Giant Mess

chrisclemonsOn average, it doesn’t behoove professional athletes to wax poetic on political and social issues without a good deal of information to back up any statements they may make. While some athletes can hold court on divisive, non-sports-related topics, those rare birds are few and far between. Suffice it to say that Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons is not one of those rare birds.

On Tuesday afternoon, Clemons started a bit of a firestorm on Twitter with the following tweet:

The discussion didn’t end there, however.

Clemons saw to it that nearly every single individual who questioned the tone of his ambiguous inquiry was greeted with a response. Though you have to give the man credit for interacting with his followers, the back-and-forth certainly didn’t do the currently-injured 31-year-old any favors. The onslaught of incoming mentions led to a slew of replies from Clemons, some of which can be read below and all of which can be read by clicking here (assuming nothing has been deleted):

The topic itself seemed to do little more than raise a few eyebrows, and as the evening wore on, Clemons backtracked ever so slightly on what appeared to be an initial bout with ignorance — or a misunderstanding, as some may have deemed it.

But whether you agree or disagree with Clemons’ assessment of a situation that seemingly everyone has an opinion on, you have to question the timing and motives behind his decision to share those thoughts.

On Monday, a story appeared on revealing that a gay NFL player was on the verge of coming out publicly. The author, Mike Freeman, cited anonymous current and former players who were close to the player in question, and went so far as to solicit the opinions of one pro-equality player in ex-linebacker Scott Fujita. The story itself may have been eye-opening, but the issues of human rights and equality in sports, and especially the NFL, have been boiling for some time — current players like Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brandon Ayanbadejo have been exceedingly vocal in their support of gay rights.

Again, everyone’s entitled to their opinion on the matter, and while Clemons was most certainly reacting to a recent story in the news, it was his follow-up responses to an otherwise-innocent question (remember, there is no such thing as an incriminating tone on the internet) that seemed to get him in trouble.

Stating that it would be better to “leave your love life at home” and that coming out publicly would be a “selfish act,” Clemons overstepped the boundaries of what is and isn’t okay for a pro athlete — an individual of some degree of status and influence — to share. It certainly doesn’t help that Clemons’ straight teammates don’t necessarily leave their love lives at home (quarterback Russell Wilson, for one, frequently references and posts pictures with his wife in the public spectrum of social media). Nor does it help that Clemons is an alleged adulterer, which some might argue is, you know, a “selfish act.”

Furthermore, if Clemons was this passionate about such issues as acts of selfishness and leaving one’s love life at home, he could have gone about rephrasing his points in a different manner, ideally without using a hot button like sexual orientation as a fulcrum for his argument. I mean, do we really consider one’s sexual orientation selfish? Have those of us who live a “straight” lifestyle ever been called selfish for referencing their home lives in public? I know I haven’t, but maybe that’s just me.

What could have been a thoughtful conversation on an incredibly important topic instead turned into an online sparring session with those who, understandably, didn’t see eye to eye with Clemons. In many ways, Clemons was probably caught off guard by strong reactions from fans who, prior to today, had gone out of their way to show him a great deal of affection. Unfortunately, what he didn’t realize is that his comments went beyond the typical athlete-fan relationship and became more about society than about one man’s isolated opinion.

Professional athletes are influential to the point that people — adults and kids alike — will share their views and follow in their footsteps out of reverence for their very essence of being. One would hope that these public figures would not only recognize their impact on those around them, but also be willing to lead in a positive, progressive way. What Chris Clemons did on Tuesday — a day in which the issue of gay marriage went to the Supreme Court, no less — defied all of that and certainly didn’t endear him to fans as a well-spoken, thoughtful leader.

Chances are, half of you agree with gay rights and half of you don’t. For those of you who do agree, you may have found yourself bristling at Clemons’ comments. For those of you who disagree, you can certainly do better than an ill-informed athlete taking up your case.

We all have our bad days. Chris Clemons had exactly that on Tuesday.

6 thoughts on “Chris Clemons + Twitter + Equality = One Giant Mess”

  1. tbtf :

    You are a horrible, self-aggrandizing writer.

    I know. I’m trying to cure myself, though. Maybe one day I’ll get better.

  2. Here’s a hint: If you’re a pro athlete living and marketing yourself in a prominently “blue” market and have a negative opinion about progress: shut your trap.

  3. Alex :

    tbtf :
    You are a horrible, self-aggrandizing writer.

    I know. I’m trying to cure myself, though. Maybe one day I’ll get better.

    Maybe they could send you to horrible, self-aggrandizing writer camp and try to cure the horrible, self-aggrandizing right out of you.

  4. Clemons play defense and shut up.. unless you have a intelligent well research comment we dont need to here you tweet about things you dont know

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