Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendan Ayanbadejo took zero days off after winning his first Super Bowl Championship, to write a column for USA Today, urging athletes to end homophobia in professional sports.
Ayanbadejo has never been shy about his stance to advocate and spread awareness to the LBGT community. His article comes at the heels of San Francisco 49er cornerback Chris Culliver, who made a statement about how he would react if he had a homosexual player in his locker room.
Ayanbadejo compares the future campaign that openly gay athletes will have to face similar to the trials and tribulations that Jackie Robinson faced in his conquest to break the color barrier in the MLB.
Just like Jackie, the breakthrough gay athlete will be a courageous individual going it alone in uncharted territory. But, also like Jackie, he will have backup — and hopefully more of it.
One of the seminal moments of Jackie Robinson’s first season with the Brooklyn Dodgers was when teammate Pee Wee Reese put his arm around Jackie during a game and then faced the crowd. The message was clear: teammates are teammates. Brothers. Reese wasn’t a civil rights advocate. But he wasn’t merely a good guy either. Reese was exactly what the codes of sportsmanship expected him to be, someone who knew what was right and did it despite the risks. Simply put, he was an ally.
His view has also been shared by Charles Barkley, who echoed a similar point about homosexual players in the NBA. I agree with the point Ayanbadejo has made. Personal beliefs set aside this is a form of discrimination, and I’m a believer one discrimination is not better than another rather it’s race, sexuality, or appearance.
At its best, sports do not discriminate. If you are young or old, tall or short, male or female, gay or straight, all that really matters is how well you play and contribute to your team.
The NFL, MLB, NHL and NBA should and can be leaders against discrimination. Whether you’re a commissioner, an athlete, a coach or a fan, your voice will let every kid out there know that there is a place for him or her in sports. We all can be ourselves and still compete with dignity and at the highest level.
During an era where America has broken certain lines of discrimination, I always questioned why we fight so hard to prohibit race discrimination but not sexual discrimination. I often wish there would come a time in our society where a person’s sexual orientation wouldn’t matter to other people. I never understood how people could care so much about what the next person does behind closed doors. My perspective has always been as long as they aren’t doing you then how can it affect you, but not everyone thinks like I do which is okay. That’s the underline beauty in this matter, we are all different and posses different view points.