Former NBA player Jason Collins says that front office personnel and coaches in sports still take issue with gay athletes on their rosters and that they will use any excuse not to sign them, according to USA Today.
Collins says he believes homophobia is still prevalent in sports despite more players coming out.
In an interview with USA Today, Collins discussed former NFL coach Tony Dungy's controversial comments on 2014 NFL draft prospect Michael Sam.
Dungy, an NBC analyst and the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts head coach, said he would not have drafted Sam, who became the first openly gay player selected in the NFL draft when the St. Louis Rams chose him in the seventh round in 2014.
“I wouldn’t have taken him,” Dungy said last summer, according to the Tampa Tribune. “Not because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it. It’s not going to be totally smooth … things will happen.”
Sam signed with the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes last month. Collins said he didn't buy Dungy's argument that Sam would be a distraction.
"If you were to ask Tony Dungy if he feels like homophobia is in his level of thinking or if he's homophobic, he'd say no," Collins told USA Today. "Well, if you were to ask Donald Sterling if he sees how his comments are racist, he said no, too. Some people don't recognize their own racism, homophobia. His awareness, and people like him, are the problem.”
Sterling was forced to sell the Los Angeles Clippers after TMZ.com posted a recording of Sterling chiding a female companion for being seen with African Americans in public and warning her not to bring them to Clippers home games.
Collins says that people outside of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community will have to push for change for the sports world to make progress.
"It's also going to have to come from those who are straight, those who are advocates of equality and acceptance," Collins said. "When someone is in the closet, dealing with all that stress when they're on that path, you're not getting the best out of them as a teammate."
- Scooby Axson