This article should really only be a couple of lines long, and should end with this caveat: ‘if he can play good football, then it doesn’t matter if he is gay or not’. But unfortunately, the discussion doesn’t seem to end there. For whatever reasons, a player’s sexuality still seems to be something of a hot topic.
At this year’s meat market, er, sorry, I mean NFL combine, Colorado tight end Nick Kasa was apparently asked whether he liked girls or not. Kasa said:
“They ask you like, ‘Do you have a girlfriend?’ Are you married?’ Do you like girls? Those kinds of things, and you know it was just kind of weird. But they would ask you with a straight face, and it’s a pretty weird experience altogether.”
I really am disgusted when I see stuff like this happening. I can’t imagine it taking place in any other type of job interview, so why NFL teams feel the need to pursue this line of questioning is beyond me. Thankfully the NFL and the NFLPA have responded, with NFLPA executive, DeMaurice Smith telling Outsports:
“I know that the NFL agrees that these types of questions violate the law, our CBA and player rights. I hope that they will seek out information as to what teams have engaged in this type of discrimination and we should then discuss appropriate discipline.”
And disciplinary action must definitely be take, in my opinion. Imagine asking a player if he liked black people. Or who they voted for. Or any other kind of question that has nothing to do with playing football.
During the build up to the Super Bowl, we saw 49ers safety Chris Culliver expose himself for the fool that he is, when he said:
“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.”
Even though he vaguely apologized for his obnoxious comments, it is precisely this kind of attitude that appears to permeate through the NFL, at least in the locker rooms. Obviously this is not the case for all player, with NFL players Chris Kluwe and Brandon Ayanbadejo being outspoken supporters in terms of gay players and seeking to shine a spotlight on the type of ignorant remarks that Culliver and others have made. And I commend them for it.
What the NFL desperately needs is an openly gay player. Don’t get me wrong, I wish this wasn’t necessary. I don’t think anyone should have to let the world know who they prefer to sleep with, but I feel it could move things forward, and give other players the courage to step up and say they are gay.
Of course, the NFL would need to ensure that those players were fully supported, and were seen to come down hard on anyone who said anything offensive or hateful. The fact that Culliver wasn’t
suspended by the league still baffles me, given that 49ers running back, Brandon Jacobs was suspended for having the nerve to criticise the coaching philosophy. What message does that send out to gay players? That they can be mocked and ridiculed by colleagues and nothing will happen. That needs to change.
Everything needs to start at a grass roots level. Kids growing up and playing high school football need to be educated and gay players given an environment they feel accepted in, and trusting that they will be judged by what they do on the field, not off it.
I really think it says a lot about someone if they are truly concerned whether a football player is gay or not. The question is a simple one: what does it matter if a player is gay?
But judging by the latest happenings at the combine, it obviously matters to some NFL teams, which as I’ve said, is disgusting and sadly points to how little progress has been made on this issue.
Things need to change, and I believe they will. But I don’t think it will be a quick fix. The NFL needs to ensure that players are treated fairly and with respect, and if anyone is seen to be making anti-gay remarks, they need to be dealt with.