Columns » Sports

Et tu, Bruno?
by Roger Brigham

Memo to Tony Bruno: You're not just racist, you're homophobic. And, by the way, as gutless as they come.

Bruno attracted instant criticism last weekend when, during his evening national sports talk show on Fox Radio, he expressed his outrage at the Friday night brawl between the Philadelphia Phillies and the San Francisco Giants by posting a Twitter message on his Facebook page: "gutless #!@%*# Giants. [San Francisco manager Bruce] Bochy is a coward for having his illegal alien pitcher hit a guy." (Bruno was referring to Giants reliever Ramon Ramirez.)

Bruno's handlers quickly got him to delete his post and apologize on the air, but the comment had already been captured and reposted by numerous followers.

"I made a stupid comment and I apologize for it," he said on the air. "I was wrong. Bruce Bochy is still a coward and I'm not taking that back." In his tirade and so-called apology, he used the word "gutless" more than a dozen times to describe the act of a pitcher throwing at a player.

Yet in his on-air apology, readily available in the archived podcast, while he attempted to deflect the conversation from his comment to the subject of throwing at players, he casually tossed in a homophobic slur. He has not apologized for that comment on the air or in his 500-word apology on Facebook.

Talking about the brawl between the Phillies and the Giants, he said, "Luckily, most baseball players are pansies and don't throw punches so nobody gets hurt."

Ex-squeeze me?

When referring to people, as virtually any online urban dictionary or fifth-grade student can tell you, pansy means sissy, fag, fairy, or any other term to indicate an effeminate, homosexual man. It's a fightin' word of the intellectually ineffectual.

A colleague of mine in Equality Coaching Alliance, Helen Carroll, the director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights Sports Project, said, "It is interesting to me that when men in the sports world throw an angry temper tantrum – and I am referring specifically to sports radio host Tony Bruno's comment that, 'most baseball players are pansies' – they still believe that the worst name to call an athlete refers to his sexual orientation as gay.  How many negative examples do we have to endure? Perhaps I should say, how many young athletes questioning or coming to terms with their sexual orientation have to be subjected to an action that has been proven time and again to be harmful and detrimental? I am glad we can all continue to see these remarks for what they are: a hateful, inexcusable tirade that has no place in sports."

Now, when a player says something stupid like that, his employer promptly denounces his comment and fines him and/or suspends him. Of course, these sincere actions usually only come after the media have made an issue of it, so please feel free to pass this column on to whomever you wish.

I wrote a little Facebook posting of my own when I learned of Bruno's gaffe. I wrote: "Radio 'personality' Tony Bruno was wrong about Giants reliever Ramon Ramirez being an illegal alien, but I think I am right about Bruno being a legal dickhead." Ramirez, it's been reported, works under a P-1 visa, often referred to as an entertainment visa.

Bruno and his apologists quickly erected standardized, knee-jerk defenses to try to diminish the criticism of his erroneous and incorrect "illegal alien" remark. They noted that he hastily wrote without thinking, as people are prone to do in social media. They deflected the conversation to the wrongness of throwing at a player. They criticized objections as being overly sensitive and worse than the original insult.

And hey: Bruno noted at the start of his broadcast that he had just finished off a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. (Note to Tony: Did you check to see the immigration status of the people who picked the grapes for that wine?) Perhaps drinking before going on the air, like drinking before driving or going on the Internet, isn't such a smart idea and not something you really should trumpet to establish how cool you are.

Then again, maybe Bruno was feeling some San Francisco animus because KNBR had recently dropped him from its morning lineup.

But those are excuses, not justifications. Calling people pansies and illegal aliens is the gutless act of a juvenile clown sitting behind the remote and faceless shield of a radio microphone, echoing in the dark of distant nights across the country.

"I am certainly not a racist or someone who likes to hurt people," Bruno said. "I didn't hurt anybody. I just hurt them with words."

Tony, it's never just words. Words give expression to our lowest impulses and spur our most injurious actions.

Enjoy your wine. Me, I'm queer and I'm having a beer. Go Giants!

Big Gay 10k

The second annual Big Gay 10k will be held this Saturday, August 13, at Fort Mason in San Francisco.

The fundraiser for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation is expected to attract several hundred runners, walkers, and skippers and will feature a costume contest. The course begins and ends at Upper Great Meadow, with a turnaround at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The race starts at 9 a.m. and will be followed by a party at the Lookout bar, 3600 16th Street. Registration is $35. For race information and registration, visit

Nyad ends Cuba-Florida swim

After months of preparation and weeks of waiting for the weather to break, endurance swimmer Diana Nyad, 61, began her attempted swim Sunday, August 7, from Havana to Florida without a shark tank, but ended it 29 hours later on Tuesday after being blown off course by strong currents.

Nyad, an out lesbian, had attracted loads of international media attention with her effort but hoped to avoid the attention of the sharks in the 103 miles between Cuba and the Florida Keys through the support of divers and electronic shark shields. She was plagued with shoulder pain and asthma throughout the swim and was vomiting when divers brought her aboard about halfway into the effort.

"I am not sad," she said. "It was absolutely the right call."


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