Sports Equality Update

A reader puts the latest coming-out in context:

As a former athlete, I have been stunned and inspired lately by the college athletes who have come out to their teams. They have all been widely accepted. Today, OutSports announced the first openly gay active college football player (another recently came out as bi). After he came out to his team, “When he had finished speaking, the team erupted in applause.” I had to reread that line a few times for it to sink in. A college football team applauding their teammate for coming out to them. Just a few years ago, I would have never thought I would read something like this for decades. But this just happened. Two weeks ago. In 2014.

So far, this has been the year of gay athletes:

Jason Collins (NBA). Michael Sam (future NFL player). Matt Kaplon (starting catcher at Drew University). Conner Mertens (freshman kicker at Willamette Univeristy). Chandler Whitney (Conner’s boyfriend and baseball player at Walla Walla Community College). Drew Davis and Juan Varona (gay volleyball teammates at Erskine College in rural South Carolina). Matt Dooley (tennis player at Notre Dame). Parker Camp (swimmer at University of Virginia).  Scott Cooper (linebacker at Augsburg University). Jesse Klug (soccer player at Bucknell University).

I probably missed some. This is an avalanche. Yes, some of them are on “small” teams. But that makes it more poignant to me. Smaller teams at smaller colleges are more of a family. The acceptance from these athletes’ teammates shows that. I’m glowing with pride for these athletes and their teammates. Had these positive gay athlete role models existed just 10 years ago, I can only imagine making some different decisions regarding my own athletics.

Update from a reader:

Chapman University (motto: “Christ and Church”) is non-profit university affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), making Eby’s coming out even more interesting.

Another reader:

Michael Sam will hardly be alone if he gets drafted into the NFL this year. Check this out, from Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback column:

One of the stars of the show in Orlando was Wade Davis, the former NFL player who came out as gay after he retired. He’s consulting with the league on gay issues. Davis left several coaches and GMs a bit open-mouthed when he told them: “Every one of you guys has two or three gay guys on your team. I know. I talk to them.”

Denver coach John Fox said “high on his list,” when his team gets back together in April, will be talking to the group about locker-room inclusiveness. “I thought [Davis’ talk] was the most incredible thing I’ve seen here [at a league meeting], and I’ve been coming to these a long time.”

Vince Lombardi said essentially the same thing in the 1960s that Wade Davis says now. The big difference is, football fans today mainly care about how well the guy plays.