The subject of gay players in professional sports has been talked about for decades, but has picked up steam in recent months.
Phoenix Mercury rookie Brittney Griner matter-of-factly announced her sexuality in an ESPN interview after four years of keeping it quiet during a record-setting career at Baylor University.
Earlier in the offseason, veteran NBA center Jason Collins announced he was gay in an article for Sports Illustrated, and became the first player in any of the four major North American sports leagues to come out.
Collins’ announcement fuels the age-old question, “would a gay player be accepted in a professional locker room?”
New Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians has a definitive answer to that question.
“I don’t think the locker room would have any problem with it,” Arians told FOXSports.com in a telephone interview Wednesday. “The problem would be with the fans. I think especially opposing fans. Some of the things that are said are over the top and out of control that I can imagine what some fans would say to an openly gay player.”
Arians brings up a great point. The locker room and home stadium would be more accepting, but the road can be a rough place for any opposing player — even when sexuality is not part of the equation.
The reigning NFL Coach of the Year may be one of the few coaches to speak out on the subject, but his comments are being supported by another prominent Phoenix sports figure — former Suns MVP Charles Barkley.
In a radio interview with Mike Missanelli on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia, Barkley applauded Arians’ stance on the matter.
“A hundred percent agree with that, one-hundred percent, a thousand percent,” Barkley said. “I’ve said many times to a lot of reporters who have never been in the locker room, to a lot of fans who have never been in the locker room, we’ve all played with gay players.
“Fans and the regular public are a lot more homophobic than players, so I one-hundred percent agree with Bruce Arians. I’m glad he had the courage to say that, because a lot of coaches, you know they kiss up to the people, but I respect that.”
Missanelli then brought up the fact that many athletes, such as Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, have stated that they would have trouble accepting a gay teammate.
“I think that those guys should be able to say that if they feel like that,” Barkley responded. “But that don’t mean they can discriminate.”