LSU athletes address the possibility of a gay teammate - Sports

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LSU athletes address the possibility of a gay teammate

What happens if a football player breaks tradition?

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Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2013 5:38 pm

Professional sports leagues across the country are preparing themselves for what seems to be inevitable: What happens when the country sees its first active, openly-gay athlete in a major sport?

Everything from desegregation, such as Jackie Robinson’s smashing of baseball’s color barrier, to centuries-old religious differences have found their way onto athletic fields throughout history. In one way or another, they have worked as proponents — or, in some instances, opponents — of change in society.

This generation’s conflict has taken shape in the form of equality for those who identify themselves as members of the LGBT community.

A football locker room has long been drenched in traditional masculine attitudes, making it a prime battleground for the same-sex equality movement.

“Football is supposed to be this violent sport — this aggressive sport that grown men are supposed to play,” said senior LSU running back Alfred Blue. “Ain’t no little boys out here between them lines. So if you gay, we look at you as a sissy. You know? Like, how you going to say you can do what we do and you want a man?”

A line has been drawn in the sand on the issue of openly gay athletes in football.

On one side stand those who see the sport through the same eyes as Blue — who could be expressing a common attitude among NCAA football players. The running back does not stand as the lone opponent to an era of change in football, as shown by San Francisco 49ers’ cornerback Chris Culliver, who made similar remarks only a few months back.

“I don’t do the gay guys, man. I don’t do that,” Culliver said during an interview at Super Bowl Media Day. “Ain’t got no gay people on the team. They gotta get up outta here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff.”

On the other side are those who say it wouldn’t affect them. The You Can Play project — an organization that's mission is to ensure “equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation” — and its slogan, “If you can play, you can play,” have given the movement national attention. The NHL recently announced a partnership with You Can Play.

“College football is a business and you have to conduct yourself in a manner where you respect everyone you deal with,” said LSU sophomore offensive lineman Trai Turner. “I feel like if the person is gay, he must still conduct himself in the manner of a football player, and if a person isn’t gay, he must still look at the person who views himself as gay, or says he is gay, as his teammate.”

Turner acknowledged that there are people in college football who would be hesitant to accept an openly gay teammate. He said people are raised differently and hold varying beliefs, but added that personal beliefs should be left off the field, no matter what they are.

“Being gay won’t do nothing for you,” Turner said. “If I knew I was lining up in front of somebody that was gay, I’m going to pancake him and sit on him just like I would on anybody else.”

When asked how they would feel about having an openly gay teammate, most athletes continued to preach teamwork and brotherhood.

LSU sophomore quarterback Stephen Rivers summed up the attitude in just one sentence.

“If he can play for LSU, he will play for LSU,” Rivers said.

However, the notion of an openly gay football player brings with it a level of tension and anxiety among athletes — despite which side of the issue they are on.

The topic of openly gay athletes in football is so taboo, the LSU Athletic Department would not allow players to be asked questions on the topic before they were properly prepped for the interview.

LSU junior kicker James Hairston said the deeper issue is the respect people show to one another throughout their lives.

“I believe that this is an important issue, one that does need to come to the forefront, that does need to be talked about,” Hairston said. “But I think the main thing is people can learn as fans, as athletes, as just people in general, just respect one another and it ends at that.”

According to a Gallup poll done in 2012, approximately 3.4 percent of the American population identify themselves as members of the LGBT community.

Statistically, out of the 109 athletes currently on the LSU football roster, four of them could potentially be gay. However, the accuracy of that number can never be truly known due to the fear of a backlash or prejudice directed at their announcements.

Rivers said a major factor in why no active football player to date has come out may be the inevitable trash-talking and unwanted media attention he would receive by becoming what some are already calling the “Jackie Robinson of gay rights.”

“In today’s society, I think there would be something extra for the person lining up against that person,” Rivers said. “You get trash-talking whether you have those problems or not, and I could see that happening.”

Even if the number of openly gay athletes on the football team is zero at the moment — something Blue insisted was the case — the possibility still remains that a player may come out in the future and LSU coach Les Miles and his team will have to respond.

“I would handle it as what’s important and what’s best for the team,” Miles said. “I would treat him, and expect his teammates to treat him, in an appropriate and straightforward manner. ... It would have to be something that I took to an office and kind of describe how I saw locker rooms and how I saw travel and how I saw staying in hotel rooms and how I saw those things. If that’s not an issue, I think things could be resolved.”

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Hal posted at 5:33 pm on Wed, Apr 24, 2013.

    Hal Posts: 3

    Mr. Scantand, I bet you consider yourself a tolerant person. In fact I bet $50 you do.

  • LScantland posted at 11:42 am on Mon, Apr 22, 2013.

    LScantland Posts: 1

    Really sickening the rhetoric from a leader at such a renowned institution. Miles should be ashamed at how callously he answer the report. His first words should have been telling the player to shut up and he was wrong... Instead... Miles would have to watch the player.. observe the player, evaluate the player... and then if he deemed ... he would not do anything...

    Hate is so easy and LSU needs to step up and call Miles out.. suspend the players who voiced the hate and send MILES to a diversity program... not a golf outing...

    There are way to many young men and women being bullied and taking their lives because of it... America does not need someone of Miles stature promoting an ANTI-GAY... pro HATE agenda... which is what his words say.

    Also, the University needs to take action, otherwise... its lack of action will promote the same ANTI-Gay, PRO-hate agenda.

  • Hal posted at 5:01 pm on Sun, Apr 21, 2013.

    Hal Posts: 3

    Well, Gegenheimer, now what? Reporters who are more responsible than you are revealing that you quoted him incompletely and out of context. Paid or not, you should be fired.

  • Hal posted at 5:47 pm on Sat, Apr 20, 2013.

    Hal Posts: 3

    Gegenheimer, this is a perfect example of not having the patience to find a story worth reporting, so you create a conflict, turn it into a controversy, and report "news" that originated with your own agenda. Enjoy your time in the light, because you have just reached the pinnacle of your journalism career.

  • Hel1960 posted at 9:25 pm on Fri, Apr 19, 2013.

    Hel1960 Posts: 1

    University students in this country are being led down deepening and darkening danger.

  • Eric Smith posted at 7:30 pm on Fri, Apr 19, 2013.

    Eric Smith Posts: 1

    Opened up this article wondering how many lines it would take you to mention Jackie Robinson. You did not disappoint.

    It was wrong when the comparison was made months ago. Now it's just bad writing and complete lack of creativity.

  • jena posted at 7:14 pm on Fri, Apr 19, 2013.

    jena Posts: 1

    "It would have to be something that I took to an office and kind of describe how I saw locker rooms and how I saw travel and how I saw staying in hotel rooms and how I saw those things. If that’s not an issue, I think things could be resolved.”

    I cannot help but think of the history lessons that we discussed in classes where African American ball players could not shower, travel, sleep with their white counterparts. Come on LSU, I cannot believe we allow "leaders" like this in our institution that promotes diversity and acceptance.

  • LouisianaLoses posted at 3:20 pm on Fri, Apr 19, 2013.

    LouisianaLoses Posts: 1

    Blue's comments, general anti-gay attitudes, and close-minded ignorance hurts Louisiana and its citizens. States that are thoughtful and progressive thrive on the talents of educated and creative people recruited from other states. I graduated from LSU and now live in Boston. The standard of living here is much higher. I have met many doctors, lawyers, scientists, and other professionals who left Louisiana due to regressive politics and ignorant comments like Blue's.

    As for not reporting on "frivolous" issues--such as, evidently, marriage equality or gay people in sports--most of us find this suggestion ridiculous. The world must go on while the law enforcement professionals deal with this terrible tragedy.

    Remember, this tragedy was probably caused by ignorance, prejudice, bigotry, sectarian doctrine, religious dogma, hatred, political radicalism, and/or mindless fear.

  • Wp815p posted at 2:51 pm on Fri, Apr 19, 2013.

    Wp815p Posts: 1

    So a gay man can be a Marine or a Green Beret, but can't be a football player? I guess 18 months of fire fights, IEDs, and generally discomfort can't compare to the toughness/manliness required for a full ride scholarship and and those dangerous 2-a-days. How a college educated person associates sexual preference with physical prowess is incredible. Well at least we can take solace in knowing that in 10-15 years comments like these will be looked upon as antiquated ignorant ideas of the past. You're my boy Blue, now go put on your tight pants and get tackled by dudes.

  • lafnjim posted at 2:49 pm on Fri, Apr 19, 2013.

    lafnjim Posts: 1

    Whether the football player who is gay does not fir the numerous "village People"
    stereotypes...cop, soldier, electrician, macho man.... who really cares!
    to be a Tiger or any member of any team, each person on the team plays to
    win a title. they all suffer the same heat and humidity, the hard workouts and
    everything else. So, being gay is not going to be an issue.
    The author wants to make something out of being gay!
    Why are there no stories about Gay (lesbian) basketball players, volley ball players,
    golfers and tennis players? Oh, because many of them are gay.
    Now the gay lobby is doing what, trying to make another in road?

    And to the author and the left in general, your side represents that we the people of america are ONE! One nation, one people! (Today is a great day to realize that.
    How many gay cops are out there risking their lives to catch the bad guy?) Who cares! We are not making a debate about it.

    If we are one nation- why is it the left tries to separate, wall off or create rifts between various ethnic, sexual, religious or personal affinities?
    I invite these writers to answer that!

    What difference does it make, the a white quarterback is leading Southern
    University? Or a straight girl plays basketball for LSU?
    You create the rift and then blame others for your personal bias and intolerance.

  • Andre Porter posted at 1:39 pm on Fri, Apr 19, 2013.

    Andre Porter Posts: 2 Staff

    Also, I guess Blue isn't aware of all the NFL players who came out after they they quit playing.

  • Andre Porter posted at 12:46 pm on Fri, Apr 19, 2013.

    Andre Porter Posts: 2 Staff

    Wow. That is Blue's comment AFTER being prepped by the Athletic Department?

    Also Mike, I noticed you've received several 'Why is this so important?' comments. These always pop up when people write on gay news issues so don't worry about it too much. But this is one of the biggest topics in big league sports. It's justified.

  • Darren posted at 11:48 am on Fri, Apr 19, 2013.

    Darren Posts: 1

    You know, I'm really getting tired of society looking at all gay man as if they were girls. Gay man are still men. They are construction workers, police officers, service men, lumber jacks, doctors, lawyers, husbands and fathers. They grow beards and sweet and drink beer and bourbon just like every other man. Just because a man sexually prefers other men doesn't mean he is a "sissy" and I find Blue's ignorance to be absolutely infuriating. Also, just because a man is gay doesn't mean he is going to try to jump his team mates when they are in the locker room or staying in hotels for away games. I find that argument to be equally ridiculous as the "sissy" statement. All this being said, I applaud those players that hit the nail on the head by saying that sexual orientation doesn't matter. If they are willing to play hard for LSU and be a proud tiger and team member then it doesn't matter!

  • Jackson Voss posted at 11:15 am on Fri, Apr 19, 2013.

    Jackson Voss Posts: 1

    I think there are a few reasons this article isn't necessarily appropriate--but mostly, it's because this isn't really news. Between the attacks in Boston, legislation that has gone before Congress about immigration and gun control, and any other things happening around the world (and even in Baton Rouge), and y'all want to write about the possibility of a gay athlete at LSU?

    I feel as if it could be news if a player had come out as being gay, but all this article does is plaster uncomfortable statements from Coach Miles and RB Alfred Blue, neither of whom apparently have anything meaningful to add to any conversation about homosexuality and its place in our society, or on their team. If anything, this is embarrassing for the team and our university and was brought about for no reason other than that someone wanted to plaster the word "gay" in bolded font on the front page of the Reveille and show that some players aren't comfortable with the idea of having a gay teammate--which is sad in its own way, but certainly isn't worth a whole news article.

    Now, I want to be clear--I believe that Student Media needs to tackle tough issues, one of which can be sexuality and how we view it and treat it. But there is a good way of engaging in that discourse, and this article wasn't it. As a straight guy who supports things like marriage equality and fair treatment of people regardless of their sexuality, gender, identity, etc., I obviously want all people who don't already accept our gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender classmates, colleagues, family members, and friends to learn more about sexuality and why it's not something to fear--but this article doesn't do anything to help further those goals, or any goals. It's just uncomfortable and puts people in a bad light for no particular reason. Just some thoughts.

  • blankone posted at 10:46 am on Fri, Apr 19, 2013.

    blankone Posts: 1

    So all of a sudden if a teammate comes out everything is suddenly different? When in actuality nothing has changed other than that everyone knows. Blue probably thinks he'll get hit on but he shouldn't flatter himself. And just because someone is gay doesn't mean they can't play football!

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