Charles Barkley: So What If a Teammate Is Gay?

"I'd rather have a gay guy who can play than a straight guy who can't play."

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Charles Barkley (Getty Images)

Charles Barkley says he's tired of the assumption that professional athletes won't accept gay teammates. According to the Hall of Fame player and sports analyst, when it comes down to it, athletic ability is way above sexual orientation on the list of things he cares about. And, as an African American, he says he refuses to endorse discrimination in any form.

The Washington Post's Mike Wise interviewed Barkley for his radio show on Monday. Barkley was insistent that the stereotype of homophobia in professional sports is both nonsensical and overblown:

Fears of feeling uncomfortable in the shower or the dressing areas, Barkley said, are unfounded in his experience.

"A guy is never going to put himself in that situation in a professional locker room," Barkley said. "It never crossed my mind, and I never felt any different about the guy."

Also weary of the perception that a majority of straight male athletes are intensely homophobic, Barkley said gay players pose no problem, adding, "Man, we need to outlaw guys who suck at sports."

"I really like ESPN," Barkley added. "They do a great job. But like once every two or three months, they bring all these people on there, and they tell me how me and my team are going to respond to a gay guy.

"First of all, every player has played with gay guys. It bothers me when I hear these reporters and jocks get on TV and say: 'Oh, no guy can come out in a team sport. These guys would go crazy.’ First of all, quit telling me what I think. I'd rather have a gay guy who can play than a straight guy who can't play."

... "First of all, society discriminates against gay people," Barkley said. "They always try to make it like jocks discriminate against gay people. I've been a big proponent of gay marriage for a long time, because as a black person, I can't be in for any form of discrimination at all."

Read more at the Washington Post.

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