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Sexuality in Sports

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In light of the Manti Te’o’s cat fishing incident, there have questions arising about his sexuality. After the supposed woman he was having an online relationship with turned out to be a man, people not only questioned how gullible he is, but whether or not this was just a huge cover up  of his sexual preference. Not that we should care about his preference, but the NFL has raised some concern to the issue because of the effects it can have in the league.

In fact, it has gotten to the point that teams interviewing players are asking them about their sexuality. Yes, that was one of the questions that was asked to the players at this year’s NFL Combine. There is no denying that having an openly gay player in the NFL will have dramatic effects. Many players and owners are weary about having a gay player in the locker room.

During Superbowl week, San Francisco’s CB Chris Culliver was quoted saying “I don’t do the gay guys man, I don’t do that. No, we don’t got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff. Nah…can’t be…in the locker room man. Nah.”

With attitudes like that, it could be difficult for gay players to come out. But the simple fact is, there are more than likely already gay players in the NFL that are still in the closet. I am sure that they are aware of the scrutiny they would get if they admitted they were gay, so for now they remain silent. However, there will be a point when these players begin to come out, and as sexual preference questions rise this year in the NFL Combine, the NFL could be closer than they think to an openly gay player.

However, is the NFL really ready for this? And is asking players about their sexual orientation during their interview process really appropriate?

Are teams in violation of the league’s collective bargaining agreement? Of the law? Or is the willful ignorance enough to step around both? In the last edition of the league’s CBA, sexual orientation was added to the no-discrimination section. Under Article 49, Section 1, it reads:

“No Discrimination: There will be no discrimination in any form against any player by the Management Council, any Club or by the NFLPA because of race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or activity or lack of activity on behalf of the NFLPA.”

So how can the NFL get away with this? I would imagine it would make any of the players uncomfortable.

We accept gays in our society, but it has not yet been collectively accepted in sports, especially football. Locker rooms in general are sacred places for players and they don’t want to think one of their teammates are checking them out or are attracted to their same gender. As a former football player, I am aware of the fact that there may be gay players in locker rooms now, but no one wants to think about it because it would cause a lot of tension amongst the players. Why the tension? Maybe it’s the fact that sports create a brotherhood or sisterhood bond amongst players and if that bond is crossed over to attraction, its goes past the line.

But its 2013, we shouldn’t care about sexuality, right? How can we overcome the sexuality barrier in sports? In actuality, if the player can play, it should not matter if they are gay. In fact there are organizations such as You Can Play that fight for outspoken athletes and celebrities advocating for gay acceptance in the locker room. Also players like Brendon Ayanbadejo speak out for gay rights. Now, will owners make sports more gay friendly because that seems to be the first step that needs to take place?

Check out this video with Phirst Contention’s opinions on gay players in football and let me know your thoughts.

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