By Ken Reed
Las Vegas Raiders’ defensive lineman Carl Nassib announced he was gay this week. He is the first active NFL player to do so.
It was a landmark announcement that will help thousands of young LGBTQ athletes and non-athletes alike. It’s a milestone that has — and will continue to — garner a lot of attention.
Nassib’s announcement has resulted in an outpouring of support, including from President Joe Biden, who tweeted:
“To Carl Nassib and Kumi Yokoyama [a Japanese soccer player who came out as transgender] — two prominent, inspiring athletes who came out this week: I’m so proud of your courage. Because of you, countless kids around the world are seeing themselves in a new light today.”
Nassib’s jersey became the number one seller in the NFL the day after his announcement.
Nassib’s decision, as an active player in America’s favorite sport, can truly make a positive difference. The world of sports, in particular football, might be the last bastion of unadulterated homophobia in American culture. Homophobic language and gay stereotypes are common in football locker rooms and there’s an emphasis on brute physical strength and machoism in the game’s culture.
Nassib’s emotional and spiritual strength will give more LGBTQ athletes the courage to come out and be true to themselves. It’s a shame that we still live in a society in which many LGBTQ citizens feel they need to suffocate who they truly are in order to fit in and be accepted. Nassib was fed up with that kind of life and decided he could be both an NFL player and an authentic and truthful human being.
“I’m a pretty private person so I hope you guys know that I’m not doing this for attention,” said Nassib in his announcement.
“I just think that representation and visibility are so important. I actually hope that one day, videos like this and the whole coming out process are not necessary, but until then I will do my best and my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting and compassionate and I’m going to start by donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project. They’re an incredible organization, they’re the number one suicide-prevention service for LGBTQ youth in America.”
What a beautiful cause: preventing suicide among LGBTQ youth in America. According to the CDC, LGB youth are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual youth.
The journalist Patrick Hruby nailed this whole issue while talking about Jason Collins being the first active, openly gay athlete to come out in the NBA:
“Sexuality is irrelevant…. Imagine the lack of joy, the sheer, inescapable loneliness, a lifetime seeking support with a finger planted on the censor button, wondering if anyone will embrace you for being, you know, you. Now realize how utterly unnecessary all of that should be. How unnecessary all of that actually is.”
Some day, an NFL player coming out as gay won’t be a big deal. But today it is. And kudos to Carl Nassib for taking that bold step.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
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. He previously covered the Los Angeles Dodgers for The Athletic. His new book is titled “How to Beat a Broken Game: The Rise of the Dodgers in a League on the Brink.” 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.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #20 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Youth and High School Sports Based On What’s Best for the Athlete’s Holistic Development – We chat with long-time youth, high school and college basketball coach Jim Huber.
Episode #19 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Capturing the Spirit of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League with Anika Orrock – We discuss the hoops AAGPFL women had to jump through to play the game they loved as well as the long-term impact and legacy they have in advancing sports opportunities for girls and women.
Episode #18 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking about the 50th Anniversary of Title IX and the Lia Thomas Controversy with Nancy Hogshead-Makar – Hogshead-Makar is a triple gold medalist in swimming, a civil rights attorney and CEO of Champion Women.
Episode #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered.
Episode #16 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Andrew Maraniss: Outstanding Author of Books That Focus On the Intersection of Sports, History and Social Justice.
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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.
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