Thursday, May 12, 2011

Sean Avery and the jackass

Stop us if you've heard this one before. Something insensitive, stupid and self-
serving was said, and in the same sentence are the words "Sean Avery." Old news, right?

Avery, the New York Rangers forward, has created a cottage industry, if not a career, on doing or saying the wrong thing throughout his NHL career -- whether it's distracting opposing goaltenders, sucker-punching a foe looking the other way or making crude and inappropriate remarks about opponents dating ex-girlfriends -- Avery has rightfully earned a place in the conversation of the most despised players in the NHL (A recent such poll by The Hockey News ranked Avery No. 3 in that category, behind the Penguins' Matt Cooke and the Sabres' Patrick Kaleta).

The Rangers have been eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs, but Avery still managed to get a reaction this week. But unlike perhaps any other time in his career, he wasn't the one firing the first shot.

Avery, along with several other prominent New Yorkers, including former president Bill Clinton, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, actor Sam Waterston and actress Julianne Moore, taped a public service announcement for the New Yorkers for Marriage Equality campaign in support of same-sex marriage.

Avery is not the first athlete to support such an initiative. Ravens Pro Bowl linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo taped a similar announcement for a like-minded organization.

In the PSA, Avery says, "I'm Sean Avery and I'm a New Yorker for Marriage Equality. I treat everyone the way I expect to be treated and that applies to marriage. Committed couples should be able to marry the person they love. Join me in supporting marriage equality."

An unheralded hockey agent in Toronto named Todd Reynolds took issue with Avery's stance and chose to use Twitter in his call from the mountaintop.

"Very sad to read Sean Avery's misguided support of same-gender 'marriage,' " Reynolds tweeted. "Legal or not, it will always be wrong."

Reynolds didn't stop there. In subsequent tweets, Reynolds felt the need to "clarify" and stated, "This is not hatred or bigotry toward gays," and "This is my personal viewpoint. I do not hate anyone."

In an interview on TSN Radio in Toronto, Reynolds went on, "I believe in voicing your opinion and not being part of the silent majority. If Sean Avery or any other player can comment on one side of the discussion then -- I work in hockey, I'm in hockey 24-7 -- why can I not comment on it as well?"

You want an answer, Todd? Here you go: Avery was lending his support toward a cause he believes in. And you? Well, we'll get back to you in a minute.

Avery is used to scrutiny in this type of arena. Even though he has been romantically linked to celebrities such as Elisha Cuthbert and Rachel Hunter, he writes a fashion blog and was an intern at Vogue Magazine, which caused people in some circles to out him. He even spoke openly on the topic during an interview with ESPN in 2008:

"It's just like a cardinal rule among athletes, that if you're not married by the time you're 30, all of a sudden you're 'definitely gay,' '' Avery told ESPN. "I just laugh it off. It's crazy ... it's just the narrow-mindedness of sports, which is probably the one thing that turns me off about it."

Is Avery gay? Who cares? The point is this: Intolerance in any form -- whether it be sexual, cultural or religious -- is frowned upon in any thoughtful, insightful or intelligent discussion. While Avery was voicing his opposition to ignorance and intolerance, all Reynolds did was take the opposite view -- in theory, supporting ignorance and intolerance -- in hopes of giving himself some pub and running the clock on his 15 minutes of fame.

If that was your goal, Todd, then mea culpa; I'm writing about you, so you got my attention. But I'm happy if I personally took your clock down to 14 minutes.

And to have a discussion including the words "Sean Avery" and "jackass," with someone else but Avery being the jackass? Now that is news.

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