Jan 30, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver (29) at a press conference at the Marriott New Orleans in advance of Super Bowl XLVII against the Baltimore Ravens. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Homosexuality and Sports: Why Sexual Orientation Shouldn’t Matter

Feb 3, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; A general view of Super Bowl XLVII between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit:USA TODAY Sports

Close your eyes, and imagine with me for a minute. You are watching the Super Bowl; there are seven seconds on the clock, 4th down and inches to the goal line and your team is down by four.

As you stand in front of the television with your palms sweating, your heart pounding, and the ache of hope and fear mingling in your stomach, the star running back for your favorite team, who has already contributed so much to this game and this season, whose jersey you are wearing, lines up in the backfield. The quarterback takes the snap and slams the ball in to the backs chest; this is it, the final play of the biggest game in professional football. The back charges through the line, lowers his head… and breaks through the defenders, TOUCHDOWN!

All over the country, living rooms, bars, and restaurants, erupt with the sound of the faithful fans of the team whose Super Bowl MVP running back just won them the Lombardi Trophy. It’s an amazing feeling isn’t it?

Now imagine that, in the days following that MVP performance, that same running back is seen at the events celebrating his Super Bowl win with another man, who is later identified as his partner. No nationally televised press conference, no coming out, just not hiding who he is. What is your reaction? Do you immediately denounce the player and throw away or burn his jersey?

Well, not if you are living with the rest of us here in the 21st century.

Regardless of what your personal views are, whether guided by religious morality, or innate morality, another person’s sexual orientation should be as personal as your own. Homosexuals are not “sexually deviant”; they are just people who are attracted sexually to people of their own gender. It is as simple as that.

Why should a person’s sexual orientation, which affects no one but themselves, even be discussed?

How is what other people do in the privacy of their bedrooms, or which gender they choose to do it with, anymore someone else’s business than what you do, or who you choose to do it with?

The short answer is: it’s not. It should make as much difference in how people are treated and perceived as gender, ethnicity, and religious preference, which is to say, none at all.

Unfortunately, this is not the case in professional sports. Just this February, the 49ers own Chris Culliver made some extremely intolerant remarks when asked if there were any gay players on the team. He later apologized; however, the stigma in professional sports remains unchanged.

The sad truth is that the anti-homosexual atmosphere that is fostered in the locker rooms of professional sports teams forces players to stay in the closet or face public ridicule, and incredibly, the possibility that they no longer be allowed to play the sport that they love.

Can you imagine having to hide something that is such a big part of your life? Having to lie about it every day so that people don’t try to hurt you or your loved ones, or try to take your livelihood away from you?

I have seen the kind of damage that can cause to a person’s psyche. As a soldier in the US Army, I served during, “Don’t ask, don’t tell”, and the repeal thereof. I watched good soldiers destroy themselves by lying about who they were so that they could have the honor of serving their country.

There is as bad, if not worse, of an anti-homosexual stigma in the military as there is in professional sports. There were protests, letters to Congress, and even the President, stating that the repeal of the “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy would cause the destruction of our armed forces. When DADT was repealed, however, few things changed.

No massive drop in the morale of troops, no sexual deviance, nothing.

But to see the faces of the soldiers it affected and watch as that weight visibly lifts is a powerful thing. Those soldiers were finally allowed to stop hiding their personal lives, without fear of repercussion or persecution.

The fact of the matter is that whether or not homosexuality is “allowed” in professional sports will not change the fact that there are homosexuals playing those sports, just as the DADT policy didn’t stop people from serving their country simply because it wasn’t “allowed”.

By allowing professional athletes to live their lives without the fear of persecution based simply on the gender of the person they love, we can prevent problems such as the violent outbursts, depression, and possible suicide that can be associated with carrying that kind of secret.

Professional athletes come from all races, creeds, national origins and religions. In the past each of those lines had to be crossed by men who were willing to be strong enough to take the abuse. Men like Jackie Robinson, who faced persecution, ridicule, and even physical danger to become the first black man to play in the all-white professional sport of Major League Baseball, paving the way for people like Hank Aaron and countless others.

Someday, there will be a professional athlete who is finally tired of living his or her life as a lie, and they will become the first openly gay professional football player, basketball player, baseball player, or in whatever sport they play.

Hopefully when that time comes, the American people will handle it better than they did the desegregation of professional sports.

Tags: Baltimore Ravens Oakland Raiders San Francisco 49ers

  • http://www.facebook.com/dean.thomas.5496 Dean Thomas

    Maybe, the liberal media (including liberal sports media) should quit trying to file everyone into little groups and pressing their destructive agendas. Nobody really cares!!

  • Guest

    Dean, Thank you so much for your comment! I’m glad you took the time to leave your opinion, convoluted and incorrect as it may be. You see Dean, I am not a liberal, nor do I right for the liberal media (sports or otherwise). I am a constitutionalist, if you are shaking your head in wonder at what that could possibly be, it is a person that believes that our government should be run by the principles of the Constitution upon which it was founded, and all of the amendments thereof. The purpose of my article here is two-fold, one is to respond to the negative backlash and intolerance that reared it’s ugly head when Kwame Harris, the former 49er, came out to the public, and the other reason is to inform people of the dangers that can come from forcing them to live a lie. All people have the Constitutional right to live their lives as they see fit, without the fear of persecution, so long as their choices do not infringe upon the freedoms of others. A persons sexuality doesn’t infringe upon ANYONE’S freedoms so long as they do not force themselves on another person (which is wrong whether you are gay or straight, I’m sure we can both agree). I have no secret agenda, I’m not filing anyone into a little group, and yes Dean, PEOPLE CARE. Thanks again for the comment!

    • http://www.facebook.com/dean.thomas.5496 Dean Thomas

      Well, I’m a constitutionalist as well, and my only point is who cares if a guy is gay or not other than liberals. If he can help the Raiders win, I don’t care. Love the person, hate the sin. God Bless!!

      • Chris Furry

        Actually Dean that is a complete falsehood. The Right Wing Conservatives are the ones you see persecuting gays publicly, and saying on national television that gays don’t belong in their locker rooms, not liberals.

        • http://www.facebook.com/dean.thomas.5496 Dean Thomas

          Give me one example, don’t use some straw man argument. Isn’t “Legal partnership” or whatever what homosexuals wanted before? Now, they want to “legally” change the definition of marriage? Words have meanings, and u can’t just change the meanings of words u don’t like. There is no law barring two gay people from hiring a minister and having a ceremony. Then file “legal partnership” paperwork to have the same “legal” rights as a married man & woman. “Marriage” is a religious and biblical institution, which most homosexuals don’t have a belief in. So, since u wanted to make this political when I said I don’t care about someone’s sexuality because it doesn’t affect me, yet u want to bring that up when it is liberals who want to group people and get the “black vote” or “Latino vote” or “gay vote”. Real conservatives, not most of the elected republicans want everyone’s vote because they’re all about freedom. Like I said give me one example!!

          • Chris Furry

            How did this conversation turn to marriage?

          • http://www.facebook.com/dean.thomas.5496 Dean Thomas

            I was trying to think of who would be persecuting gays and why. The hot button topic politically right now is gay marriage, don’t for one minute think that these athletes “coming out” is not an extension of that political issue. ESPN and other useful liberal idiots fall for it every time. Like I said, if the dude can help my team win, I don’t care who’s in his bed.
            Peace out

  • http://www.facebook.com/tracy.stapleman.7 TracyJon Stapleman

    This is a huge reproach in the face of Football.

    • Chris Furry

      Thank you for taking time to comment TracyJon Stapleman. I fail to see how this is a reproach in the face of football? I simply used football as an example to prove my point,.

  • cytwo

    For gays to ‘come out’ in pro sports like football or baseball first there has to be a few. The Raven special teamer and the Raider tackle are a couple and there may be someone other or so. In pro sports, the vast overwhelming majority of players are married, to wives, and most of them have families. The ones that are single are just that, single, and typically get married at some point, to wives. If there was some small percent of gays in pro sports they would be out, as gays have been coming out openly everywhere in recent times. Now if there was some gay player who was hitting 40 home runs a season or averaging 100 yards rushing a game that is all the home crowd fans would care about and there would be no problems being out open. There is not much issue here.

    • Chris Furry

      Thank you for the comment cytwo, but I dissagree. The lack of openly gay athletes does not necessarily point to the absence of the same. Listen to the remarks made by Chris Culliver, actually listen to the words he spoke, and realize that his opinion is the rule, not the exception. In such a testosterone fueled world such as professional sports tell me how someone could be comfortable being open, when intolrance and fear are the norm. Also how could an athlete be comfortable knowing that his sexuality is the rift that is tearing his team apart, the won’t want to shower with him, or spend time together, which leads to a lack of trust on the field and that can destroy a team. No, I am afraid it just isn’t as simple as you think.

      • cytwo

        And how about when athletes retire? No locker room worries then. So it shouldn’t be so hard to come out then seeing how many people in public life today are openly gay. But I don’t see too many ex-gay pro ballplayers, particularly among the great ones, linebackers or running backs or quarterbacks or pitchers. Who? Any football/baseball/basketball Hall of Famers?

        • Chris Furry

          Roy Simmons, OL for the 1983 season NFC Championship Redskins, Sheryl Swoops, First woman to ever be signed to the WNBA when it was created. Wade Davis may be the most outspoken former NFL player to come out after his career was over, and has explained in great detail why it is so difficult to come out even when you are done playing saying that the negative way in which being gay is perceived, especially in the professional sports world makes athletes afraid to come out because the people that they played the game with are like family to them and they are afraid to be shunned by the sports community. No there are no openly gay HOF athletes, however, I seriously doubt it is because there AREN’T any gay HOF athletes. The truth is most athletes who are at the top of their sport continue to work in and around that sport at a professional level and have to be around homophobic players, such as Chris Culliver, in their daily lives. Not coming out makes it easier to stay around the sport that they love, plain and simple.

  • pjmokate

    If you say that their sexual preference is their own business and who they do it with, then why openly state it in the first place? People dont walk around claiming their heterosexual? Your story is as contradictory as it is stupid!

    • Chris Furry

      Thanks for the comment pjmokate. People also aren’t persecuted on a daily basis for being heterosexual. If you notice in my article I was very specific about NOT saying that gay athletes should hold press conferences coming out to the world on national television, instead I very specifically said that gay pro athletes should simply NOT HIDE WHO THEY ARE. This story is not about changing the minds and thought processes of the gay athletes, but rather changing the thought process of the SPORTS COMMUNITY so that these athletes don’t live in fear of being who they really are.

    • Chris Furry

      Also your statement almost proves my point, why do professional athletes feel the need to publicly state that they would not and could not be supportive of an openly gay athlete on their team? Is that not the same thing as publicly stating their heterosexuality? Is saying, during a nationally aired interview, that an openly gay player would be ostracized and rejected not the same as saing “Hey world, I’m STRAIGHT”?

  • http://www.facebook.com/christopher.cooper.5030 Christopher Cooper

    All I can say is powerful. This is one of the best written articles this site has seen.

  • Chris Furry

    Thank you Christopher Cooper, I appreciate the compliment and support.