The topic of openly gay athletes in professional sports has been a pretty important issue lately. Jason Collins recently became the first active professional athlete to come out about his homosexuality, which really brought the issue to the forefront.
Since then, various people in the sports community have made comments, both positive and negative, about the topic of gay players in sports. The most recent of those comes from Arizona Cardinals Head Coach Bruce Arians, who said something that, if true, could prove to be very reassuring to many people.
In an interview with Foxsports.com, Arians stated:
“I don’t think the locker room would have any problem with it. The problem would be with the fans. I think especially opposing fans. Some of the things that are said are over the top and out of control that I can imagine what some fans would say to an openly gay player.”
Arians believes that the teammates and coaches of the player would be fine with having a gay player on their team. Instead, the problem would come from fans, particularly of the opposing team. And that makes sense* considering sports fans, particularly those who attend football games, tend to take their sport very seriously, and say things that they normally wouldn’t, or shouldn’t.
Whether what Arians says is true or not remains to be seen. There have been multiple examples of players expressing ideas that contradict what Arians believes, including Dolphins Wide Receiver Mike Wallace, who tweeted (and then subsequently deleted):
All these beautiful women in the world and guys wanna mess with other guys SMH…
That doesn’t mean that Wallace is in the majority, or even that players who agree with him would say anything about it to the open player. But it does show that there are some players who may have a problem with having a gay teammate. Regardless of whether it is true or not, it does have some impact. Arians knows what it is like in the locker room, and he knows the players. So if he genuinely believes that to be the case, we could see more active players coming out, especially in the NFL.
*When I said “makes sense” I meant it in the way that fans don’t hold anything back. They are very passionate, and will often express that with inappropriate comments to rival players. I in no way meant that it makes sense for them to be against the gay community, or is okay for them to say those things.