Sexual Orientation Questions at NFL Combine Spark Sports Radio Discussion, Create Welcome Distraction

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I listen to a lot of sports talk radio. I listen to as much of the various hosts as possible across the five different stations that offer all-sports formats -- yes, five; it's insane. There are some shows and on-air talent I like better than others. We're all like that, I would guess. For me, I tend to prefer more straight sports to "guy talk," and that colors my view. But occasionally, a subject crosses those boundaries and stirs up the kind of debate that is as fascinating as it often is frustrating.

In this case, the topic is gays in sports. The issue was brought to the fore when a report emerged that several NFL teams at the league's NFL scouting combine had asked players either directly or indirectly about their sexual orientation. This is illegal in a number of states, but not all. This produced a series of writs from all corners of sports media, which, of course, filtered down to sports radio in Houston.

For callers, it was a typical mix of the analytical and the emotional, with the latter typically being more prevalent. And while the arguments not surprisingly leaned towards the conservative end, it felt to me like those who did want to discuss it for the most part were more well reasoned than not. When you consider the often insane rants that come from talk-show callers, this was refreshing.

One host that I found particularly insightful on the topic was Sports 790's Greg Koch. The former NFL offensive lineman and his on-air partner N.D. Kalu are usually very good at breaking down the NFL and the intricacies of playing the game, being former players. With Kalu out for a couple days last week, Koch tackled the subject on his own and it was pretty fascinating.

But for the most part, everyone I listened to who brought the subject up on the air moderated the discussions well, which is mildly surprising given how divergent the styles of the hosts are and how differing their opinions can be. One caller began his call by saying, "This is the kind of debate I love on sports radio."

Honestly, I couldn't agree more. We are now a full seven weeks removed from the Texans' loss to the Patriots in the second round of the playoffs. Every possible angle of what happened to the Texans has been dissected in print, on air and, yes, online. Yet, callers continue to yap about them and hosts oblige. As one sports radio host said on air recently, "When we talk about the Astros, people change the channel." I'm sure that goes for the Rockets as well, who certainly are superior to the Astros but suffer from the continued stalemate between CSN Houston and cable providers representing 60 percent of the city's TV viewers.

Still, it's crazy to think that all we've done since the end of the NFL season is continue to discuss the Texans. First, it was the team and Matt Schaub and the defense and whatever else. Now, more than a month before it happens, it's the draft.

So, when a topic that inspires intelligent, mostly rational discussion that isn't covering the same ground that has been covered a thousand times already makes its way onto sports radio, we should all be thrilled. Until the next guy who thinks the Texans should trade Matt Schaub for the first pick in the draft calls in...again.

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