Since Jason Collins became the first male player in American professional sports to come out, he has received both disdain and attacks from pundits, coaches and players, but also plenty of encouragement.
On Meet The Press Sunday, former Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo — who has used the spotlight to advocate for marriage equality — said he hopes that one day gay male athletes will no longer be surprising or big news to fans. Ayanbadejo highlighted the need to reform hyper-masculine sports culture to be more accepting of all people:
AYANBADEJO: People think gayness has something to do with femininity when really we just need to erase that stereotypes from our minds. LGBT people come in all different types and shapes and forms. So I think that’s really what we’re fighting. But the beautiful thing about what Britney Griner did, it barely made a splash. That’s what we’re trying to do in men’s sports when people announce they’re gay. We don’t want it to change the climate in sports. We want everybody to be accepted and people can go out there and love who they want to love and be who they are so they cannot only be better people but they can also be better athletes.
Ayanbadejo also encouraged NFL players to follow Collins’ lead, hinting that more athletes may make announcements this year. “When an athlete does come out they’ll have a supportive group around them,” he said.