In November, Scott Norton won a pro bowling tournament in Las Vegas. On December 30, ESPN featured a telecast of that tournament, the Chameleon Championship. Norton, who is gay, celebrated his triumph with his his husband while ESPN’s camera’s were rolling.
Jim Buzinski, who writes for Outsports.com, spoke with Bill Littlefield about the significance of the December broadcast of a November bowling tournament won by a fellow with whom relatively few sports fans are likely to be familiar.
“ESPN showed Scott kissing his husband, Craig Woodward, on the broadcast and referred to Craig during the broadcast as Scott’s husband or spouse,” Buzinski said. “I think it was a first in broadcast history of them showing a same-sex couple kissing with an athlete.
“I thought it was unique that ESPN did not shy away from it,” Buzinski continued. “The event was in November, and so they had plenty of time to edit it – they easily could have edited out the kiss and just shown him with his family or something, but they chose not to. They thought it was part of the story, and they addressed it as part of the storyline. So… It was pretty cool but it’s still something that a lot of people are not used to, so that’s why it’s news.”
Buzinski said the response to his article has been overwhelming, with several other media outlets picking up the story. However, not all of the reaction has been positive.
“People, they often say, ‘Why do you have to flaunt it?’ or, ‘Why do you have to shove it in our face?’” Buzinski said. “It kind of jars people. And so I think that some of the comments, you know, that we’ve gotten that have been negative towards it are people who really still can’t process the idea that in 2012, you can get married in parts of this country. Scott is legally married to his husband and ESPN treated it as a simple fact, as if they would have if he was married to a woman.”
Even though most of the country doesn’t know Norton, or about the kiss, Buzinski said the moment could break new ground for gay athletes.
“If it happened on an NFL broadcast, if we ever had – we first have to have an openly gay NFL player, which in itself would be a huge story – I think it would be a much bigger story, just because of the nature of the NFL,” Buzinski said. “I do think somewhat it’s a watershed moment because this is something that happened and the world didn’t end, and I think that’s the big thing that a lot of people are seeing, that this stuff shouldn’t affect them if they’re opposed to it.”