The NBA became the first of the four major American team sports to have an openly gay player on Monday with Jason Collins’ decision to come out. Now, the question on the minds of many people is whether or not any of the other three sports will follow. Will Collins’ announcement inspire others to come forward and in hopes of gaining acceptance for who they are?
Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward does not believe the NFL is ready for that.
“I don’t think football is ready, there’s too many guys in the locker room and, you know, guys play around too much,” Ward told Erik Kuselias on NBC Sports Radio Tuesday morning, via Pro Football Talk. “Hopefully one guy comes out of the closet and [will] be comfortable with himself. I don’t have anything against a gay football player or a gay person period so if he does, he has support from me. I want people to live their lives for who they are and don’t have to hide behind closed doors to do that.”
While there will undoubtedly be people who confuse Ward’s comment for a homophobic remark, he is simply being honest. Because of the physical nature of the game of football and the stereotypes associated with gay men, it might be more of a challenge for a gay NFL player to come out. As Collins said, he goes against many of the “soft” stereotypes that people think of. An NFL player could have even more trouble breaking that mold.
Comments like the ones Mike Wallace made on Monday and the infamous remarks Chris Culliver made before the Super Bowl remind us that not all of the NFL’s players are ready to accept a gay teammate. However, that time may never come unless someone from the NFL follows in Collins’ footsteps.
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