After much speculation (and confirmation) that NFL hopeful Michael Sam may face locker room woes as an openly gay player, NFL Nation and ESPN Magazine have conducted a survey to show just how many players have issues working with out athletes.
According to ESPN, 51 players were quizzed four true/false questions following Sam’s announcement. While it seems a majority wouldn’t have a problem showering with or being around a gay teammate, players seem to be split when it comes to whether “an openly gay player would be comfortable in an NFL locker room”:
Forty-four players said a teammate’s sexual orientation didn’t matter to them, and 39 said they would be comfortable showering around a gay teammate. But 32 players said they had teammates or coaches who used homophobic slurs last season, and when asked whether an openly gay player would be comfortable in a NFL locker room, just 25 players said yes; 21 said no, while five declined to answer.
One anonymous starting receiver thinks the NFL should be schooled in which homophobic slurs “can and can’t be said around a gay person”:
Whoever takes [Sam in the draft] should have an open talk at the beginning of camp, where everybody can ask what he’s comfortable with, what offends him, what boundaries there should be. When it comes to race, people already know the boundaries, to a certain extent. But I don’t think football players are overly familiar with what can and can’t be said around a gay person.
Yeah, that’s it. Boundaries. We need to work on boundaries so the inherently homophobic know what kind of language should be reserved for talking behind a teammate’s back, and what kind of language can be brushed off as a joke in front of him. Brilliant.