Mark it down. This was the week of the Griner-Scott Revolution. The top pick in the WNBA draft casually exited the closet, apparently a capacious one that has long lacked a door -- and the Masters champion was relentlessly objectified.
Not too long ago, either of these developments would have been serious business, implying inappropriate yearnings -- Brittney Griner's attraction to women, women lusting after Adam Scott and, yes, even men lusting after Adam Scott. These were great breaches of the sports code, designed primarily to keep women in their place and to prevent male athletes from revealing emotion, which risked making them feel and look "like women."
The revolutionary piece of Griner's statements comes from her resolute indifference to what anyone else thinks. She said she hadn't been hiding; she just hadn't sent out press releases. On Monday, she simply dropped the issue of her sexuality into a larger conversation about bullying. Her presentation forced trolls of the online world to forgo most of their "get it out my face" options and stick to the "who didn't know that?" side of the menu -- in which case they sounded remarkably like Griner herself.
What she really accomplished, without trying to do anything at all, was to carve the tombstone on lesbian scare tactics in women's sports. Other female athletes have publicly departed the closet, kneecapping phobia in their sports. But for Griner to do it so matter-of-factly on draft day, after spending her college career at a university that has resisted gay rights, the last bones gave way. With the supportive comments of Elena Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins, the last shovel of dirt has been tossed on the grave.
To quote Carrie Bradshaw of "Sex and the City" on an unrelated topic, the days of fear-mongering are "so over, we need a new word for over."
I remember talking about this subject with other former female athletes and current female sportswriters in 1999, when the captivating U.S. Women's World Cup team was touted as "wholesome, all-American, fabulously heterosexual and damn proud of it." I was annoyed, and several of the players were weary. They were aware that they had lesbian teammates, including goalkeeper Brianna Scurry. Accepting this sort of praise amounted to a betrayal, and they knew it.
Some female writers thoughtfully asked why I found the emphasis on physical beauty and heterosexuality so offensive. Wasn't it better to let this team's "wholesome" appeal build the sport, with the expectation that the sport would eventually grow independently of the prettiness factor? Many other straight women believed that removing the stigma of lesbianism from team sports would encourage more girls to get involved.
Some of these women had played softball or basketball and felt uncomfortable with the assumptions about sexuality attached to their sports. Most of these conversations amounted to friendly exchanges, so the women would usually smile when I'd reply: "So that's the reason you thought a million guys weren't hitting on you?"
I have to admit I understood how they felt for a while. I'd get e-mails from readers "accusing" me of being a lesbian, or I'd hear that some athlete had been speculating. It troubled me until I realized that allowing myself to feel threatened was a form of homophobia. I needed to overcome it -- quickly.
In one discussion with some women at the World Cup, I stumbled onto what turned out to be the most compelling question of all. "Do we really think that, without lesbian athletes, women's team sports would be where they are today?" The truth is, lesbians would fight for rights in ways that made many straight women uncomfortable. They tended to care how they looked to men. The lesbians did not.
Along the way, we've all discovered that only some men live in terror of strong women. They are now definitively on the losing side of history. They can call Griner a man, and she won't care. It doesn't cut into her dominance as a player, and it won't affect her endorsement opportunities. Mark Cuban helped her in that domain by suggesting he might take her late in the NBA draft.
The prettiness factor lives on, but less regrettably, because it's now attached itself to male athletes. After Scott won his green jacket Sunday, the swooning reached the point that he had to declare himself in a relationship in order to fend off advances from producers of "The Bachelor."
I was surprised to see a lot of female reporters on Twitter commenting on his looks with noticeable drool spilling off their 140 characters. This used to be quite taboo, but those days appear to be over, too. We've made a deal. We get the Danica Patrick thing. Her appeal is obvious, and to ignore it would be almost dishonest. But we all have to concede the comparable truth about Scott.
Companies will be able to sell stuff with his face attached to the brand. Female consumers have too much disposable income to ignore. So do gay males. He will get special treatment, like most beautiful people.
Some of us will, as always, watch only for the competition. Many of us will, in fact, drool over the sublime implausibility of Angel Cabrera as a frequent majors contender.
But if Scott's allure can transcend the grave limitations of a collared golf shirt and a broomstick putter, more power to him. His new admirers, however, should exercise some restraint and resist any urge to book tickets to the next three majors. After all, that could mean missing an episode of "What Would Ryan Lochte Do?"