Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dollars & Sense - LGBT is Dominating Sports Media

The sports world tends to err on the side of conservative, and when you look at the figureheads of the industry it all makes sense.  Owners and players are perhaps the most visible people within an organization and naturally the ones earning the most money.  Given the conservative nature of sports, as a whole it tends to lag behind the rest of the United States in values and beliefs.  

Lately, the LGBT movement has been rocking the sports media world.  Sometimes the ugly, backwards side of the movement comes out -- ahem, Chris Culliver (ironically the San Francisco 49ers put together a video for It Gets Better prior to the season).  But a lot of it has been positive, and that's a great sign for the movement.

It started during Super Bowl week.  Although Culliver's comments unfortunately garnered more media attention, Ravens' linebacker Brendan Ayanbadejo stood up for the cause.  As an NFL player and as a straight, biracial human being, Ayanbadejo's views matter.  He is an outspoken leader on an issue that splits NFL locker rooms.  For more on his fight, check out Frank Bruni's piece in the NY Times.

(Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe is known for speaking out for LGBT rights as well.)

As the Super Bowl wrapped up, Chuck Culpepper of Sports on Earth decided that this was his chance to speak out.  Being gay sportswriter in a sports world dominated by homophobia and masculinity is a challenge that Culpepper documents in tremendous fashion in a column a week ago.  It was courageous and touching as he documents saying thank you to Ayanbadejo for his work towards the movement.

Although the Super Bowl is now history, the LGBT movement has remained in the news.  Most notably, Kobe Bryant spoken out on Twitter and denouncing those using hateful slurs.  Here is his tweet earlier in the week:

Perhaps the thing that I love the most about his response is that he actually addressed the issue at hand: the use of "gay" in a derogatory sense.  Many people would have attacked the statement on grounds of the "your" as we all know is the incorrect form.  Coming from a guy like Kobe who is typically introverted and also has been in the media over for using a derogatory terms, it was impressive to see him speak out against this.

( also commended Kobe for what he did.)

Kobe is not the only athlete that is outwardly speaking out against those exuding hateful behavior and impeding the progress of the movement.  Earlier in the week, Dave Zirin of The Nation tweeted out a link to the You Can Play Project website.  The You Can Play Project highlights videos of of athletes and teams of athletes taking a stand against LGBT discrimination.  

As a nation, we are not where we are as a country on this important social issue.  But people are talking about it.  Importantly, the sports world and its media - the world that so often lags well behind the rest of us - is talking about it.  As we work towards a world of equality for all - where "gay marriage" is simply seen as "marriage" like it should be - let us all do our part for the cause even if that means just staying educated on the topic.


Here also are two videos from last year from Amy K. Nelson of SB Nation talking first to Jamie Kuntz (who was kicked off of his college football team after kissing his boyfriend) and the second to Wade Davis (who came out after playing in the NFL).   

Follow Kevin Rossi on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

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