Since the founding of their individual leagues, all of Americas top tier professional sports have been separated by sex. While this may not be a product of specific rules, it has certainly become the norm to see men and women divided not by their ability or aptitude but by their gender. While this is an established norm, lesbians and homosexuals are still very much so a rarity at the highest levels of professional sports. They hide their sexual orientations out of fear of discrimination. It is imperative that we embrace these LGBT issues and bring them to the forefront so that they may be issues no longer.
Just recently, Baylor women’s basketball star Brittney Griner confirmed the fact that she is indeed a lesbian woman. The announcement itself means much in regards to opening the door for other college and professional players to step through, confirming their own sexual preferences. Her announcement wasn’t without kickback however. Baylor has always been and remains an institution with firmly entrenched christian beliefs. With these beliefs is the schools recognized policy against homosexuality and same sex relationships. Baylor must now make the choice as to how they will handle the fact that one of their most famous athletes, someone who brought them an undefeated season and subsequent national championship, is now an openly gay woman. Griner has since been drafted as the number one pick into the WNBA and will in all likelihood have a stellar pro career, all while being a lesbian.
Its these kinds of decisions that teams are being forced to make as the issue of sexual preference becomes more prevalent. The NFL is going through its own growing pains in regards to allowing the inclusion of openly gay players. Rumors floating around the league recently have pointed to the possibility of an organized group of players choosing to reveal their homosexuality simultaneously. The thought is that by coming out as a group, no one player will assume the burden of the media scrutiny that is sure to come. The NFL though may soon find itself in possession of its first openly gay player regardless of what existing players do. Alan Gendreau, a kicker from Middle Tennessee State, has long embraced his homosexuality and made the fact public knowledge. In college and on the field he was able to perform his duties regardless of his sexual preference and he hopes to bring his talents to the NFL for the coming season. If he is successful, he will be the first openly gay player to enter the league, a milestone that shouldn’t be trivialized and one that will hopefully show how it is possible for those of differing sexual preferences to coexist on the field.
The fear held by those that are hiding their true sexual natures is that they will somehow be perceived differently by their teams and fan bases. It is this fear that must be erased in order for sexual equality to establish itself within Americas favorite sports. Who you choose to find attractive and love should have no bearing on how you perform with your teammates on any given Sunday.