By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Apr 16, 2013 at 11:02 AM Photography:

The National Football League is getting ready for it. So is the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball. Even the National Hockey League is getting prepared.

If you didn’t know better, you might think some kind of major labor strife is on the horizon and the leagues are getting ready to handle it. But it’s not labor strife that is causing this high level preparation.

It’s the guy who is about to come out of the closet.

It may well be that the heat of the debate about same-sex marriage is creating the climate, but speculation is also hot and heavy that some prominent, active, male athlete is about to come out, as well.

This anticipation has spawned all kinds of activity, including games trying to predict the sport and the player who will come out. It’s also spawned its share of homophobic idiots hiding behind their blogs.

The New York Times had an article last week about how the four professional leagues are preparing to handle whatever happens.

Each league is partnering with unions and with various LGBT advocacy groups to develop response plans for what they all apparently believe is going to be a reaction of of gigantic proportions.

And the expectation is that the reaction is going to come from three areas: the public, the press and the athletes.

I think the public reaction is going to be fairly predictable. You’ll get your God-fearing fire breathers who think this is the end of all sports and all things American. You’ll get the justice standard bearers who condemn the righteous as bigots.

The press is going to foment. Members of the media love nothing more than conflict and if it doesn’t exist they will find a way to create it. Microphones will be thrust into the faces of talking heads on all sides of the issue. Rush Limbaugh will proclaim the "Death of Football" and Anderson Cooper will provide a friendly national forum for the athlete who comes out.

The reaction of professional athletes is a little more difficult for me to anticipate. If I had a dime for every anti-gay joke I’ve heard in a locker room I’d be a rich man. The world of pro sports is macho, full of preening, snapping bath towels and ribald humor. I don’t think athletes are going to welcome this news without a little bit of an "I don’t want to get involved" reaction.

When this happens there’s going to be a lot of shouting about progress and how far we have come, but that’s a little overwrought.

Real progress will be when a gay professional athlete is only concerned about his performance on the field and the rest of us cheer or boo for the way he plays.

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.