Sunday, June 07, 2009

NHL team allegedly asks prospect if he was gay; firestorm should not ensue

Asking a job applicant about her/his sexual orientation would land you in court in some circles. In the hockey, well, it happens. Coming Down The Pipe! notes Tomáš Tatar, a Slovak prospect, said in an interview that he was asked some rather pointed questions.
Q. "Did you get any unusual questions?

A. "There were a few. I thought I didn’t properly understand what they were asking when they asked if I was married with kids and if I was gay. I calmly answered all questions."
It was also reported one of the questions teams asked players is whom they would chose as a dinner guest between Sean Avery U.S. President Barack Obama and tennis player Maria Sharapova. (The obvious glib response: "Dinner with Obama, dessert with Sharapova.") God forbid one would conclude that hockey guys tend to be a wee bit frat-boyish. However, was it really that inappropriate to ask Tatar if he was "married or gay?" Yes and no.

To borrow a line from one of Elisha Cuthbert's movies, "It's a little funny." A NHL team asking a prospect if he was gay, and asking if he'd rather dine with hockey's bad boy, the President of the United States or a very blond Russian tennis player is a golden opportunity for crappy liberals (et tu, Sager?) to have some fun. Edmonton sports radio host Dean Millard knew asked Tatar if he was gay was out of bounds:
"Listen, I know there are some odd ball questions out there, but what the hell does anyone's sexual orientation have to do with being a good hockey player???? I think whatever team asked this question is very wrong."
Really, though, it was more a case of just being clumsy in the execution.

Part of the reason professional teams ask quote, unquote out-of-left-field questions is to see how limber someone is mentally. The aim is to push someone's threshold and see how unflappable he is, just to get a read on how he might react in a similar situation as a player. Brock Otten, from OHL Prospects, noted as much:
"They were testing his maturity level. If he answered the question, 'eww gross no,' then I believe that would tell them about said players maturity level. However if he had answered 'no, that is not a life choice of mine, but I hold nothing against those who do make that choice,' that would give them a good indication he's pretty level-headed.

" ... A much better way to approach the topic and decipher a player's personal maturity could have been asking, 'how would you feel and react if a player on your team was openly gay?' That question there would give them the same type of response they'd be looking for, but at the same time respecting the personal privacy and boundaries of the specific player."
So that's settled, leaving aside that one's sexuality is not a life choice. It is good to see fellow hockey pucks say it's B.S. if a NHL team is asking that of an 18-year-old player. Asking the question that way Otten phrased it, though, is acceptable.

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