For professional athletes, life is good. They’re millionaires and are adored by multiple people. Except for those, however, who have to hide who they truly are. In the fallout of all the current human rights controversies, the issue of professional athletes coming out is beginning to surface.
There have been players who have come out after their retirement, such as former San Francisco 49er Kwame Harris, but he has expressed that he wishes he would have come out during his career in an interview with CNN. Harris did not feel like a gay player in the NFL would have been “compatible.”
2013 is a different story.
49er cornerback Chris Culliver made an anti LGBT statement prior to the Super Bowl.
“I don’t do the gay guys. I don’t do that,” Culliver said in a radio interview with Artie Lange.
He quickly apologized and was ordered to participate in sensitivity training. If he had to do that just from something he said, I could only imagine the tens of thousands of dollars a player would have to pay if he harassed an openly gay player physically or verbally.
Current players that are gay should be comfortable enough to come out to their teammates. An NFL team spends more time together than they do with their own families. This should be reason enough for a man to feel comfortable and safe enough to come out to his teammates.
Vikings punter Chris Kluwe wrote a column for CNN stating that a gay NFL player would not be a distraction. Kluwe’s philosophy is simple: treat others how you want to be treated. It is a notion we all learn as children but some people seem to forget it.
Kluwe says that players would feel that their jobs would be in jeopardy if they came out publicly, and that it is not fair. He is absolutely right. Someone that works as hard as a professional athlete to get where they are should not be afraid to share a part of who they truly are.
Much like Jackie Robinson, who blazed the trail for African Americans to make their way into professional baseball, an openly gay player in the any pro sport would be seen as a pioneer for human rightsùnot just for sports. It would promote acceptance of people no matter what their sexual orientation is in workplaces all over the world.
There will, of course, be the idiotic idea that if there is a gay player, he will come onto the other players. On this issue I side completely with Kluwe: “grow the fuck up,” he said in his column.
One organization, Athlete Ally, is working to end homophobia in sports. Member of this group include Brendon Ayanbedejo of the Baltimore Ravens, Scott Fuijita of the New Orleans Saints and of course Kluwe.
Do not be surprised if you hear about a current NFL player coming out publicly. Those who do will have numerous allies in and out of professional sports.