A number of NFL football players have criticized Seattle Seahawks Defense End Chris Clemons comments last week when he said that a player coming out would be “selfish.” Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin “didn’t think it would be selfish” while Minnesota Vikings Punter Chris Kluwe told homophobic players “to grow the f*** up.”
“I don’t think it would be a distraction,” said Barwin in an interview with USA Today Sports.
“And even if it was, the NFL has distractions in every locker room. You would work through it like anything else. If somebody had a problem with a teammate being gay, they would realize very quickly that it was something they could get over.”
Barwin came out in support of gay players after Clemons retweeted his opinion, adding that it would “immediately separate a locker room and divide a team.”
Kluwe, a long standing ally of the LGBT community having campaigned on behalf of Minnesotans for Equality, wrote an editorial piece for CNN.
“Players — Those of you worried about a gay teammate checking out your ass in the shower, or hitting on you in the steam room, or bringing too much attention to the team – I have four simple words for you. Grow the f*** up,” Kluwe wrote. “This is our job, we are adults, so would you kindly act like one?
“It’s not right that professional sports, and especially the professional sports media, have created an environment where gay players are willing to hide essential components of themselves as human beings in order to pursue their dreams, in order to not be a distraction,” Kluwe added.
“It’s not right that our insatiable lust for sports coverage creates an atmosphere where someone would willingly subordinate his life to a backward and bigoted worldview in order to stay employed.”
The discussion involving openly LGBT athletes has been a growing conversation throughout the last year. In February, US soccer player Robbie Rogers came out, but also retired when making the announcement.
“I started feeling very different and it was a case of, ‘All right, I’m good at football [soccer]and I get attention from girls. Why don’t I want that? What’s wrong with me?’” said Rogers in his first interview since coming out, with the Guardian. “I realized I was gay when I was 14 or 15. I was like, ‘I want to play football. But there are no gay footballers. What am I going to do?’”
“You feel [like]such an outcast. I just couldn’t tell anyone because high school in the States is brutal,” Rogers said. “You’re going through puberty and kids can be vicious.”
Many athletes have supported the movement towards a more inclusive athletic environment, recently including Baltimore Ravens’ Linebacker Brendan Ayanbadejo, Cleveland Browns Linebacker Scott Fujita Scott and New England Patriots Tight End Rob Gronkowski.
“You’ve got to accept the player. Everyone has their own ways to live their life and as long as he’s respecting me, keeping distance, respecting myself, I’ll respect him back,” said Gronkowski in an interview with ESPN. “If he’s being a great teammate and he’s a guy on the field doing a great job, well then you’ve got nothing to complain about. He’s another teammate and another friend.”
Still, there are those who believe as Clemons do. Charisma Magazine News Editor Jennifer LeClaire announced on her email bulletin that gay athletes should not come out.
“Professional sports should stay out of step,” wrote LeClaire as she supported her Pentecostal Christian views.
“Shining a positive spotlight on gay role models in any industry serves to validate homosexuality, which is clearly a sin. You can bet whoever comes out first will be the poster child for the radical gay agenda’s campaigns as they seek to make all things LGBT mainstream in a nation under God that’s divided on gay marriage.”
Currently, the US does not have any openly gay player in the National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association or National Hockey League.