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Gay Rights Groups To Shake Down Pro Sports

From the New York Times:

Major Sports Leagues Prepare for the ‘I’m Gay’ Disclosure

By JEFF Z. KLEIN and JUDY BATTISTA | April 11, 2013

With growing expectations in recent weeks that a gay male athlete in one of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States will soon come out publicly for the first time, the leagues have begun exploring ways to accommodate and respond to such a landmark announcement.

"Landmark announcement"? Exactly what difference is it going to make?

The National Hockey League and its players announced Thursday what appeared to be the most comprehensive measure by a major men’s league in support of gay athletes. The National Football League is working with gay advocacy groups to smooth the way for acceptance and to discuss how to prepare for the moment when one of its players publicly discusses his homosexuality.

Will they do this for heterosexuals, too? Are heterosexual players going to be encouraged to publicly discuss their heterosexuality?

The N.F.L. player Brendon Ayanbadejo, who has become something of an unofficial spokesman for the acceptance of gay players, has suggested repeatedly that there are a number of closeted active players in several sports who might eventually come out.

“The thing is, we’re in contact with several players,” Ayanbadejo, who was recently released by the Baltimore Ravens and is unsure if his playing career is over, said in an interview this week. “I’m not going to name numbers. Several gay players in more sports than just football, and what we’re trying to facilitate is to get them together and do what they want to do, do what is right for them.”

The N.H.L. said it had formed a partnership with the You Can Play Project — an advocacy group pledged to fighting homophobia in sports — to plan training and counseling on gay issues for its teams and players.

Other leagues — the N.F.L., Major League Soccer, the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball — have policies that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, and various officials have spoken in support of gay athletes. The N.B.A. recently sent a memo to teams reminding them that interviews with players entering the N.B.A. draft should not include questions about religion, race and sexual orientation.

When is the NHL going to start accommodating blacks? When is the NBA going to start accommodating Hispanics?

“This has been our policy for years, and we strongly support the N.H.L.’s approach to it, and it’s our fervent hope that this draws less attention, not more, when a player eventually comes out,” David Stern, the N.B.A.’s commissioner, said. “We’ve included training in our rookie program, worked with” the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, “and Grant Hill and Steve Nash have done television spots. We’ve made our views known to players who have expressed inappropriate views.”

Patrick Burke, a scout for the Philadelphia Flyers and a founder of You Can Play, which was formed in March 2012, said the demographics of the N.H.L., with so many players from Canada and Northern Europe, were part of the reason the league had taken such a step.

“We have players from around the world, and a lot of those players are from countries that are seen as more progressive on L.G.B.T. issues,” Mr. Burke said, using the abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. “So I don’t think it’s unreasonable or strange to think that the N.H.L. and the N.H.L.P.A. are driving this, in part because our players tend to be more comfortable with this issue.”

Mr. Burke added that laying the groundwork for an openly gay player was not an official part of the program.

“But we’re ready to do whatever that player wants,” he said. “If he wants to do a thousand interviews and march in pride parades, we’re equipped to handle that. And if he wants us to pass block for him so he never has to do another interview in his life, we’re equipped to handle that, too.”

You Can Play will help run seminars for N.H.L. rookies to educate them on gay issues and make resources and personnel available to each team, as desired. The league and the players union will also work with You Can Play to integrate the project into their behavioral health program, enabling players to seek counseling on matters of sexual orientation confidentially. Mr. Burke said the joint venture would also step forward when players make homophobic remarks.

In other words, they are going to become another shakedown operation.

In the N.F.L., the league’s security department would monitor public reaction, looking for potential threats from fans in the event a player comes out. Troy Vincent, a former player who is now the league’s executive charged with player engagement, and Anna Isaacson, the league’s community relations director, have been designated to cull ideas from gay advocacy groups and to build relationships with the groups that the N.F.L. might then use to help them address players.

The ideas raised by advocacy groups are myriad: could the N.F.L. order stadiums to stop jokingly training their “kiss cams” on two men, for instance? Much of the conversation has centered on the league’s rookie symposium, a convention for incoming players, and the training of what the N.F.L. calls ambassadors, former players who can deliver messages the league believes are important.

“We are in active discussions with L.G.B.T. partners,” said Robert Gulliver, the league’s top human resources executive. “We do want to sensitize incoming rookies as to how important it is to pay attention to L.G.B.T. issues, so people have an appreciation for some of the sensitive L.G.B.T. issues that are very topical right now in the league.”

During a recent meeting with league officials and three organizations — Athlete Ally, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and You Can Play — Wade Davis, a former N.F.L. player who has come out and is now on You Can Play’s advisory board, suggested closed-door meetings with players at which they could freely ask questions about having a gay teammate.

Mr. Davis acknowledged that because many N.F.L. players are deeply religious, open conversations about how their religious beliefs impact their feelings about gay players are necessary.

“The players are the ones who are going to have to interact with this first out gay athlete,” Mr. Davis said. “Instead of pushing anything on them, let’s have an honest conversation. Even if somebody has a different opinion, their opinion is valid. One great thing about sports culture is the locker room is a P.C.-free zone. So players will say anything with the understanding they are family. That’s where you have to start from.” …

"PC free zone"? What a laugh!

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Friday, April 12th, 2013. Comments are currently closed.

One Response to “Gay Rights Groups To Shake Down Pro Sports”

  1. First Unions shaking down the NFL over injuries, now homosexuals following suit.

    God thing that years ago I researched and learned of the Communist KBG “tick technique”. Where their agents lived off their victims.


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