SBD/May 1, 2013/Sports in Society

Emmert Offers Support For Collins, Discusses Possibility Of Openly Gay College Athlete

Emmert said the need for a high-performing athlete to come out was long overdue
NCAA President Mark Emmert yesterday opened the '13 NCAA Inclusion Forum by "urging campus leaders to make school policies more welcoming for women, minorities, disabled athletes and those with different sexual orientations" in light of Wizards C Jason Collins announcing he is gay, according to Michael Marot of the AP. Emmert did not specifically mention Collins, but "expressed his support for the first openly gay active player in a major American pro sports league." Emmert said, "At the very least, I hope it does make it much easier for athletes in universities and other environments to be open about it and be supported by their coaching staffs and teammates. We're talking about a culture change, and it's slow and arduous, but what I'm seeing on campuses is that the inclusion issue has moved up." He added, "The need for a high-performing athlete to feel he can be open and honest about his sexuality is long overdue" (AP, 4/30). Stanford football coach David Shaw said, "I'm more excited about the reaction to his announcement than the announcement itself. Hopefully we'll eventually get to the point of, who cares? Can he play with his back to the basket? Can he play defense? Can the kid sack the quarterback? Whatever time frame it is until we get to that point, hopefully it's sooner than later." Cal coach Sonny Dykes: "This will be the first step in people being more comfortable in talking about these types of things" (SI.com, 4/30).

IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATION: CBSSPORTS.com's Dennis Dodd wondered if one of the major college sports could be the "next to embrace a gay athlete." Washington football coach Steve Sarkisian "found himself recently discussing the subject of a gay athlete with his staff." Sarkisian said, "We're trying to get ahead of this. How do we educate our players? How do we educate our fans? How does it pertain to the recruiting process? Our conversation came about: What if there is a potential recruit? If there is a college athlete that is openly gay, does that affect his draft status? We're in the infancy stages quite honestly in dealing with it" (CBSSPORTS.com, 4/30).
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