If you’re gay and you play for the Baylor Bears, you’d best keep that information to yourself. That’s the exact message No. 1 draft pick and former Baylor star Brittney Griner told ESPN she was relayed by head coach Kim Mulkey when she arrived there to play basketball.
Sports and sexuality have always gone together. Professional athletes are today’s gladiators in every way — they’re buff, they’re warriors and they’re mostly all good looking people. However sports and sexuality was okay until the sex started becoming of the same gender variety, and that now has some people freaked out.
There have been numerous reports of four NFL players preparing to all come out at the same time, and that’s coming after NBA center Jason Collins became the first male athlete to come out as openly gay. So it’s safe to say that in the coming years, more and more factors will only intensifying the debate we’re having at the moment.
But while most people seem supportive of the idea of a player coming out as openly gay, that wasn’t the case for WNBA rookie Brittney Griner who told ESPN that while at Baylor, there was a demand to put the clamp on her sexuality.
“It was a recruiting thing,” said Griner in her interview with ESPN. “The coaches thought that if it seemed like they condoned it, people wouldn’t let their kids come play for Baylor.”
Baylor declined to directly comment to any media outlet regarding the claims that they tried to put the kibosh on Griner’s sexuality, rather they dug up a quote from Baylor;s head coach which praised Griner as a ball player.
“Brittney Griner represented Baylor University proudly on and off the basketball court, and she leaves behind an incredible legacy,” Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said earlier this month. “I cannot comment on personal matters surrounding any of our student-athletes, but I can tell you Brittney will always be a celebrated member of the Baylor family.”
While sports athletes will continue to come out, they won’t always be met with open arms. Look no further than Chris Broussard and his comments on ESPN following Jason Collins coming out or the numerous NFL players who have taken a stance against the idea of homosexuality.
Griner’s story isn’t an anomoly and it’s happening at a level much lower than the collegiate one. High school athletes and kids everywhere are forced to bury their sexuality out of fear of the very thing Griner said happened to her — come out as gay and be labeled as a person that would drive other kids away.
Now a member of the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA, Griner is no longer quiet about her sexuality and she’s now an open supporter of human rights. But what happened to her at Baylor mustn’t get glossed over as the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA draft isn’t the first kid to be told to surprise who they are and they won’t be the last.