“I’m out because I no longer, in good conscience, choose to ignore the unabashed homophobia that is so cavalierly tolerated within the world of sports. I’m out, because the silence of a closeted gay man only serves to give his implicit approval to bigotry. I’m out, because I refuse to continue hiding from the truth that an openly gay man has as much right as a straight man to play sports or report on them.
… “The gay community is the one minority that is still very much fair game for overt displays of prejudice in the world of sports. While inroads toward achieving equality are slowly being made in the real world, a gay man is still expected to bear the burden of shame in the sports world.”
And so it is in the NFL. But there are signs that the NFL is beginning to change. As part of last month’s 10th annual rookie symposium — an event aimed at preparing draft choices for on and off field life — the NFL included an openly gay speaker for the first time in its diversity training program. Esera Tuaolo, a retired NFL defensive lineman, discussed issues of homophobia in football and sports with the 255 recently drafted rookies.
Outsports’ Cyd Zeigler Jr. has extended comments from Tuaolo regarding his discussion, and the importance of simply being included for the symposium:
“‘I’m not here to change you,’ [Tuaolo] told the rookies. ‘I’m not here to convert you. I’m here to educate you on the issues of homophobia in football and sports.’
Esera shared some of his personal experiences as a gay man in the NFL, some of the hurtful words he heard used in locker rooms, hiding all of the nine years he was a player.
‘I think a lot of guys were shocked at what [Tuaolo] had to tolerate at times,’ [NFL Vice President of Player and Employee Development Mike] Haynes told ESPN.
… While a culture of homophobia is still perceived to reign in football, as with most sports, Tuaolo said the NFL’s attitude toward homosexuality is changing:
‘They didn’t have to include me in this. But, they did. They’re working on it. They are moving forward. Things just aren’t going to happen overnight. I felt really proud of myself. I feel really good. It was cool to go back as a gay man to where I used to play.’
Tuaolo is already looking forward to being a part of next year’s rookie symposium. He also would like to branch out and start visiting the teams, talking to the veterans, the coaches – everyone.
‘There’s still a lot of work to do,’ Tuaolo said, ‘but our foot is in the door and they’re talking about it. For some people that’s not enough; but for me it is – for now.'”
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.” We discuss overzealous adults in youth sports, the dangers of sport specialization, youth sports entrepreneurs and the profit-at-all-costs mindset, and the growing socio-economic gap in youth sports.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon