Gay players in sports has been a hot topic in the public for the past year and many heterosexual athletes have given their take on what it would mean to have a gay player as a teammate. Recently, the NFL Network sat down for an interview with players from both past and present to discuss the locker room culture and how gay players would fit in with the teammates and Jonathan Vilma of the New Orleans saints let it be known that he’s afraid of taking showers with a gay man.
Andrea Kremer, the NFL’s chief correspondent for player health and safety, sat down with the players to discuss gays in the locker room and claimed that a situation such as that would “test the limits of tolerance” for heterosexual players.
“There’s such a stigma with gay and homosexuals within male sports,” said London Fletcher, Washington Redskins linebacker, acknowledging the sports homophobic atmosphere. “It would be very difficult for that first person to come out.”
And that point was ironically and painfully made clear when Vilma commented on his fear of showering with gay men.
“I think that he would not be accepted as much as we think he would be accepted,” Vilma added. “I don’t want people to just naturally assume, like, ‘Oh, we’re all homophobic.’ That’s really not the case. Imagine if he’s the guy next to me and, you know, I get dressed, naked, taking a shower, the whole nine, and it just so happens he looks at me. How am I supposed to respond?”
However, Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ike Taylor said that the sexuality of his teammates is of no concern to him. Instead, maintaining solidarity is the only thing he’s worried about.
“Regardless of who it is, straight or gay,” Taylor said, “if he’s on this team, he’s a teammate of mine.”
Although it doesn’t seem like Vilma intended any malice or offense in his comment, it’s also clear that he’s unaware that his words speak to the ignorance and lack of knowledge he has about gay people. For one, it’s a very self-centered and presumptuous mindset to think that another man would automatically look at him sexually in any setting. It’s also unfortunate that, if such a shower scenario did occur, Vilma wouldn’t think to handle the situation with calmness or humor, such as by making a joke to lighten the mood or just brushing it off.
Sadly, Vilma’s not the only one in sports with a closed-minded and dated view of the LGBT community. Check out some other homophobic comments made by athletes below. – nicholas robinson