By Ashanti Bradshaw
Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report released an article Wednesday on the current status on homosexuality in the NFL and the stalemate between two unidentified players who are, not only ready to be signed and play football, they’re ready to announce to fans and players of the NFL that they’re gay.
Why is it stalled? Simply put:fear.
At a time when states are finally realizing the importance of same-sex marriage to their everyday livelihoods, the NFL says that it’s ready to embrace gay players but deep-down it isn’t nearly as ready as it thinks. For example, the instability of the Dolphins’ locker room and how it now paints a grim picture on locker room culture. For a male already having to struggle with gaining judgement-free acceptance from society, hoping to get anything close to the same brotherly protection his hetero counterparts have reads like a pipe dream.
I commend the optimism in those still wanting to embrace these men into a league shrouded by that brute, simplistic Old World mentality when it comes to the sexuality of others. They fully intend to lead by example because as the years change so does that of the mindset of generations to come.
Some currently active players come from upbringings that either taught tolerance of others or shared ignorance, many of whom have personal experiences based solely on what the male figures in their lives deemed as “feminine behavior” or “not of God’s will”, a.k.a. “The Adam & Eve, Not Adam & Steve Mentality”. This starts at home, bleeds into college and develops over many lifetimes.
Individual tolerance starts at that very point, on an individual level. Only this one person can decide for themselves if they will open their heart and mind to many differences including cultures and sexualities, the world is after all still a melting pot.
Hazing in the locker room has gone on for much longer than people want to accept, and certain behaviors just grew acceptable but with the idea of ushering in a sexually-open NFL changes to those behaviors won’t be an easy feat. Again it will have to start on an individual basis, with many of those in leadership positions showing younger players this is a new NFL and the old way of doing things is now passè.
No one really knows for sure the timetable on when we will have a more accepting NFL, even with the league’s Personal Conduct Policy policing tolerant behavior we still have players who are tough nuts to crack. Will future changes be made to the policy once everything is official, but not so much that players will feel like they’ll have to coddle gay players? I sincerely hope not. Eventually they will have to ready themselves for gay rookies and in a perfect world they’ll do so with open arms.