NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman
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.
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…
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…
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…”
N.F.L. player Brendon Ayanbadejo said that a loose consortium of supporters — including former athletes in several sports who came out after their careers were over, psychologists and friends — were trying to help put those players in touch with one another. What happens after that, he said, is up to them.
“As far as what happens, none of that is coordinated,” he said. “It’s going to be on their times, their terms. The only thing coordinated is support, them being able to talk to other athletes who have been in their shoes. We want to put them together, and we can be there to support them in whatever they want to do.”
Overdue. Of course.
One of the saddest aspects of topics like this is that even conservatives who whine about individuals and organizations taking progressive attitudes on questions like this – still bullshit themselves into believing they live in the most advanced country in the world.
We lost that title decades ago.
Advancements happening within the borders of the US of A are owed to the young at heart who are willing to fight against reaction, ignorance. That leadership banner can unfurl over the whole nation when all of the battles against True Believers are won. Sports figures being able to speak openly about their sexuality without fear of sanction is part of that, one more step.