Brendon Ayanbadejo wants professional sports to be ready and welcoming for openly gay teammates
Thank God for Brendon Ayanbadejo.
He’s in the position to make a difference and he is trying to!
The linebacker with the Baltimore Ravens has kept his promise to use the team’s Super Bowl championship to call for an end to homophobia in sports.
He is calling on straight athletes to show their solidarity with gays. He cites the example 66 years ago set by Pee Wee Reese who publicly put his arm around Brooklyn Dodgers teammate Jackie Robinson – the first black player in major league baseball – to show the crowd that teammates are teammates regardless of the color of their skin.
‘Reese was exactly what the codes of sportsmanship expected him to be, someone who knew what was right and did it despite the risks. Simply put, he was an ally,’ Ayanbadejo writes in a column published this week in USA Today.
This kind of support is necessary if a gay player in any of the major sports in the US – football, baseball, basketball and hockey – is ever to come out publicly during their playing career.
‘Just like Jackie, the breakthrough gay athlete will be a courageous individual going it alone in uncharted territory,’ he writes. ‘But, also like Jackie, he will have backup — and hopefully more of it.’
Ayanbadejo, who began speaking out for marriage equality four years ago, is calling on all levels of professional sports to lead the way.
‘The NFL, MLB, NHL and NBA should and can be leaders against discrimination,’ he writes. ‘Whether you’re a commissioner, an athlete, a coach or a fan, your voice will let every kid out there know that there is a place for him or her in sports. We all can be ourselves and still compete with dignity and at the highest level.’