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The Simmons Voice

The Student News Site of Simmons University

The Simmons Voice

The Student News Site of Simmons University

The Simmons Voice

One Washington lobbyist’s fight to ban gay athletes from professional sports

By Lauren Lane
Staff Writer

Recently, Washington lobbyist Jack Burkman was quoted saying, “We are losing our decency as a nation.” He wasn’t talking about something terrible like drinking and driving, or cheating, or racism; instead, he was talking about openly gay athletes wanting to enter the NFL.

“Imagine your son being forced to shower with a gay man. That’s a horrifying prospect for every mom in the country. What in the world has this nation come to?” he said. While I am not a mother, I know plently of mothers and fathers of athletes who wouldn’t find this “horrifying” in the slightest.

The idea for this legislation came after college football star Michael Sam publicly announced his sexual orientation a few weeks ago. The 2014 NFL draft starts on Thursday, May 8, and ends on Saturday, May 10. If Sam does get drafted, he will be the first openly gay player in the NFL.

Burkman continued even further: “If the NFL has no morals and no values, then Congress must find values for it.”

While Burkman and possibly many other people might be in agreement the thought that this is a “horrifying” idea to let talented, dedicated gay athletes play in professional arenas, there are many people who are in complete opposition to them–people like Burkman’s employer, Holland & Knight law firm.

In the firm’s interview, they said they are “proud of its support of the LGBT community and we condemn Jack Burkman’s current efforts” and went so far as to explain that Burkman’s employment with Holland & Knight ended almost 12 years ago.

Michael Sam shared his feelings on Burkman in a tweet on Feb. 25 saying, “Jack Burkman is going to need a Delorian, not some bogus bill, if he wants to prevent gay athletes from being in the locker room.”

While this is the first talk about an openly gay NFL athlete, Jason Collins has already conqured that hurdle for the NBA.

Jason Collins checked in for the Brooklyn Nets in their game against the Chicago Bulls on Monday night. He played just under three minutes, scored no points, a single steal, rebound, and committed a single foul. It wouldn’t seem like a big deal for any player, except this was the first time any openly gay basketball player had played in a professional setting before.

Collins wears number 98 for the Nets, chosen for the year in which gay University of Wyoming student, Matthew Shepard, was killed. It was the top selling jersey as of last week in the NBA.

“I was in college at the time when he was killed and of course it’s a tragedy what happened and I just hope that it inspires others to move forward,” said Collins about Shepard.

But Collins isn’t just wearing the jersey in memory of Shepard, he also donated a jersey to Shepard’s family, who drove over four hours to meet the NBA star and watch him play.

“Matt would see this as a great day. Jason helps those kids go ahead and live their lives to the
fullest, and take their talent in academics, in sports, wherever it can take them,” added Dennis Shepard, Matthew’s father.

But Collins and the NBA aren’t stopping at just that. The NBA announced that it will donate the procedes from Collin’s jersey sales to the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and the Matthew Shepard Foundation.

They will also be auctioning off worn and autographed jerseys to the same organizations.
But the NBA isn’t the only forward thinking professional sports organization. The MLS is joining in on their pro-gay athlete parade.

Robbie Rogers both officially came out and retired from professional soccer in February 2013. However, he was picked up by the LA Galaxy and became the first openly gay male professional soccer player.

When Rogers came out, he told the press, “I have been afraid, afraid to show whom I really was because of fear. Fear that judgment and rejection would hold me back from my dreams and aspirations,”  and continued, “I realized I could only truly enjoy my life once I was honest. Honesty is a bitch but makes life so simple and clear. My secret is gone, I am a free man, I can move on and live my life as my creator intended.”

A year later, Rogers is still being shown support by his teammates. On Feb. 28 of this year, he tweeted a picture of a note written on a white board in the LA Galaxy locker room written by captian, Landon Donovan. “Saturday after the game, mandatory night out…players only (no wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, or side pieces).”

Rogers tweeted at Donovan, thanking him for including him. It might be small and might seem trivial, but it is events like this that show the support athletes have for each other, gay, lesbian, trans, or straight.

Some reader out there could very well still be on Jack Burkman’s side, and think it is horrifying to shower with a gay athlete, so I will take the time now and explain to you exactly how to shower with a gay athlete.

Step one. Your clothes are probably very dirty and sweaty from your game/practice/match/race, so take them off.

Step two. Turn on the water and stand underneath it.

Step three. Use your shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. Feel free to throw in face wash if you are feeling fancy.

Step four. Turn off the water, get out of the shower, and dry off. Hopefully you didn’t forget your towel (it’s actually a lot more common than you think).

Step five. Put on your (hopefully) clean and dry clothes. How comfortable does that sound?

Congratulations! You’re done. You have successfully learned how to shower with a gay athlete.
That doesn’t sound that horrifying does it? (Burkman, I’m looking at you).

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