So ESPN conducted a anonymous survey that found that most NFL players are cool with the idea of having a gay teammate. On the surface, that's good to hear. But the different between most and all is significant, and I think it's something we often overlook.
The poll, based on a sample size of 51, found that 86 percent of current players would accept a gay teammate. But if that means that 14 percent wouldn't, we have a major problem.
In fact, I'd argue that the real headline is the fact that, per the poll, seven of 51 players think sexual orientation matters among teammates, 12 wouldn't shower around a gay teammate and 21 believe that an openly gay teammate would NOT feel comfortable in an NFL locker room.
Michael Sam's rookie season could be tulmultuous if even one teammate has an issue that at any point comes to the surface. In this case, we're talking about anywhere between five and 10 players having a problem, maybe more.
I frankly expected the numbers to be much more in favor of tolerance and acceptability. That almost a quarter of the players polled by ESPN admitted they wouldn't feel comfortable showering in a teammate like Sam's presence is an indication that, indeed, the road ahead could be rocky.
It's sad to say in 2014, but if these initial survey results are any indication, the NFL may not in fact be "ready" for its first openly gay player.
Great comments.... By the way, Brad, I know you didn't write the headline for the Bloguin front-page banner on this story, but the correct word is "Wary", not "Weary"....
"I frankly expected the numbers to be much more in favor of tolerance and acceptability."
That's because you are young and outside the closed, testosterone-driven world of pro athletes. A few years ago, a number of pro athletes (more than 14% I'm sure) could not understand why there was so much anger directed at Michael Vick over dog-fighting. Vick may have been the only person up to then to be convicted and jailed on federal animal cruelty charges. It's a world of men and male-oriented view points tend to be extreme in the most aggressive of all team sports.
I read somewhere that 33% of everyone you meet just won't like you on general principle. 14% is probably too low as more players get blow back for expressing their opinion. You'll get the "right" survey answer now, not necessarily an honest one.
I'm sorry but I disagree. I think this is a very positive number. 10 years ago it would have been around 50% of players who wouldn't want a gay teammate and in time that number will drop to below 1%. Also considering how many players in the league are deeply religious and considering a large percentage are from places in the country where many do not accept gay people I believe this number is very positive and will only get better
@SkinsHogHeaven Where is the tolerance and acceptability of those who disagree? Tolerance and acceptability goes both ways. Tolerance in its meaning necessitates disagreement but respect, not agreement.
@Yamster I suspect the tolerance and acceptance is in the 86% of those who will accept a gay player in the locker room ... because I do not believe that 86% of NFL players really accept gay people generally.
With the blow back some players experienced for intolerant tweets, the Incognito scandal and memos flying from NFL HQ, you will hear the "right" answers from players, not necessarily honest ones. And that's OK.
All are entitled to their opinion, but no one is entitled to hinder a player the boss hired to help win games, or to keep that player from developing the full potential of their talent, or to stand in the way of their income. Players DO get that part.
Just saying that acceptance and tolerance are not the same. A player may not like the development. Acceptance is all that is really required. (And yeah, maybe we are saying the same thing only in reverse.)
Employers of football players may not discriminate on sexual orientation. Teams haven't had to confront this before because no active player or prospect have come out and others who had their suspicions kept their mouths shut.
When Mike Sam came out, he outted the issue too. Know what? Pro sports has had a way of teaching us something about issues like this. Sam and the NFL will get along just fine.