Respect: Deserved both on and off the field
By the time this column is printed, the Super Bowl will have been decided, but that doesn't mean I don't already know who the loser is. The game on the field is won and lost by people with God given ability, with talent and athleticism beyond the realm of basic human comprehension. It is not the game on the field that matters.
Tuesday Jan. 29, a 15-year-old boy in Idaho hanged himself. He did not die at the scene, but suffered until he finally gave up fighting later that afternoon. That 15-year-old boy was teased because he was gay.
Wednesday Jan. 30, Chris Culliver of the San Francisco 49ers told comedian Artie Lange "I don't do gay guys, man. Ain't got no gay people on the team. They gotta get up outta here if they do. Can't be with that sweet stuff." Culliver continued on when asked if he could accept a gay member of his team in the locker room: "Nah...Can't be in the locker room, gotta come out 10 years after that."
Culliver was chosen in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft out of the University of South Carolina. Culliver is blessed with more athletic ability in his right hand then I have been blessed with in my entire body. Culliver is about to complete a dream that's in the minds of almost all American youngsters: to play in a Super Bowl and have a chance to win.
I am not sure if Culliver realizes the depth in which his words ring. I am not sure if Culliver even realizes what he may have done. Culliver just told anyone with a television set that it is ok to bash another human being simply for being different. Not 60 years ago, these same comments would have been made about people with another skin color. Culliver has now given firepower to every person who wants to make fun of the kid in class because he's confused about his sexuality. Culliver has now made it acceptable for a child to assume that someone should be excluded, regardless of natural talent, SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY ARE DIFFERENT.
I believe that Chris Culliver did not realize the impact his statement could make. I believe that Chris Culliver does not understand the humiliation he may have caused to thousands of American teens who may have just dug themselves further into the black hole of depression caused by confusion, and there may not look like there is a way out.
Culliver plays defensive back, a position that demands respect. A quarterback may intentionally target a DB because he knows he can beat him. A wide receiver may make a stutter step because he does not respect a DBs ability to keep up. Culliver clearly does not realize that respect goes beyond the playing field.
The fact of the matter is that there are gay people in this world. Some may not agree with the simple fact that sometimes people are homosexual, by no fault of their own. Sometimes these people who are gay have also been blessed with an innate ability to play football or basketball.
Everyone should be allowed to play. It does not matter if you're black or white, gay or straight.
If you can play a sport, you should be allowed to play. Period. End of story.
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