Openly Gay Football Players: What’s Important?

The sensitivity of men to small matters, and their indifference to great ones, indicates a strange inversion.” – Blaise Pascal

Perspective is necessary if we are to remain sane in this increasingly small world in which we live. I say increasingly small because technology has brought us so much closer together than we used to be. That’s not a bad thing, nor is it a good thing. But because we have become so tightly pulled together by the strings of our wireless world, new problems have emerged that would not have otherwise seen the light of day. And with these new challenges, we must sometimes take a step back, and slightly alter our perspective in order that our priorities remain in correct alignment.

According to Yahoo News Canada:

“As fans gather for Sunday’s Super Bowl in Arizona, a billboard campaign is seeking to win acceptance for gay players whom the organizers say have been part of the National Football League since it started, but are scared to come out in public. The campaign by SCRUFF, a gay social networking application used by 7 million people worldwide, features two men eyeing each other in a locker room alongside the slogan ‘Play On Our Team’…”

The battle over gay sportsmen has been an increasingly bitter one–specifically in the months since football player Michael Sam came out of the closet, becoming the first openly gay pro football player. One side lobs an incendiary argument, then the other side responds with just as much fire. And make no mistake, these issues are not unimportant, but what happens when we take even a small step back?

Now, let’s be real. The billboards featured in Arizona are unnecessarily provocative. In light of what they allege they are trying to support—making gay players feel as though they can come out without having their heads beaten in by a baseball bat—the billboards really have the opposite effect. Their design and message is strangely sexual, when, if they are trying to promote camaraderie among players regardless of sexuality, they should not have such sexual undertones. It’s counter-productive, and obnoxious.

But let’s get back to my question. What happens when we take a step back? I have some words for both sides of the argument that neither side will want to hear. Also, I know very well that I’m going to get an enormous amount of heat for saying what I’m about to say, but I really don’t care.

To those raging against openly gay players, I say, get over it. And don’t think I’m unaware of the argument. It goes like this: having openly gay players on a team will create tension, and division, because to have gay men using the same showers, and locker rooms as straight men makes the straight men uncomfortable. God forbid you’re uncomfortable.

As an actor, I have shared many dressing rooms with fellow actors who happen to be gay. I have never once felt uncomfortable because I have a respect for these men as professionals. However, what if I do get checked out? Gasp! What happens then? Likely nothing. And the same goes for football players.

There are exceptions to every rule–and to anyone who thinks I am arguing otherwise, go to the top of the page, and begin to read again, because you apparently don’t have much retention ability–but I very much doubt a gay football player is going to make a move on his teammate by virtue of his not being closeted. As I said before, there are exceptions—meaning there are creeps—but being in or out of the closet doesn’t change whether or not someone is a creep.

Lastly, is anyone under the impression that there aren’t more gay sports figures? As a percentage of the population, there are likely numerous gay players, who are simply pretending. Does allowing them to continue to pretend make you feel safer in the locker room? Does getting changed next to acloseted gay man make you less afraid of getting gay-raped than getting changed next to an out gay man? It’s asinine.

Oh, but gay players, and activists, don’t think I’ve forgotten about you. Oh no. Your tactic has been to blanket the airwaves with everything gay—not unlike the billboards. To yell, and scream your message at people, rather than try to make educated inroads is no less stupid than to fear someone because they are gay. You’re aggressive bullies, who have nothing better to do than to loudly complain, and accuse. You are unnecessarily provocative. You place blame everywhere you can, even when there is none to be placed.

Michael Sam was cut, and it’s because he’s gay! That’s the immediate conclusion. Maybe he just isn’t good enough. But that’s not possible, because everybody hates gays, and they’re always the victims.

Now to the whole pretty picture. It’s football. Why are we trying to make it into something else? It’s a game in which two teams try to score the most points by throwing, and kicking a strangely-shaped ball.

You know what else we are dealing with? Islamic extremism, illegal immigration, abortion, voting rights, economic implosion, and even gay marriage. There is a litany of issues we are facing, and I feel like openly gay players in the NFL or elsewhere isn’t a really big deal, considering everything else.

And right here is where I will take heat. I will be told that it’s all connected, and that the push for openly gay players is all part of the advancing agenda of normalization. Don’t think I don’t grasp that. My point is this: we are all human beings. We are made of flesh, and blood runs through our veins (unless you’re a Democrat—I had to go there).

To the side of the debate that decries openly gay players: you see gays not as people, but as “its.” It’s not the right way to treat people; it’s dehumanizing. I understand if you’re uncomfortable, but you should examine yourself for the plank in your own eye before you resort to preconceived, blanket notions about individual human beings.

To the side that bullies: those who may feel uncomfortable with openly gay players, and voice that opinion are not evil, or cruel. They have a right to feel the way they do, and to endlessly badger people because they aren’t used to something is wrong. That is cruel; that is vile.

We all have different issues, and to bully, or to be irrationally afraid seems insignificant in the grand scheme of things—it’s football.

Take a step back, and examine your perspective. Take stock of what is important, and not only look to what others can do to change, but look to whatyou can do to change, because maybe you are as fallen as everyone else.