Kluwe demonstrates changing attitude in pro sports
Yahoo! Sports acquired and published a letter from Maryland politician Emmett C. Burns Jr. to Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti on Sept. 6. The letter requested that Bisciotti prevent Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo from further publicly supporting same-sex marriage, specifically a ballot initiative in Maryland to legalize it.
Burns requested Bisciotti to “take the necessary action, as a National Football Franchise owner, to inhibit such expressions from your employee....”
The audacity of the request has not gone unnoticed. It gained publicity thanks to an open letter to Burns from Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, published by Deadspin.com.
The letter, despite being full of profanities and obscenities, demonstrates the flaws and inherent injustice that Burns suggests in restricting a U.S. citizen’s First Amendment rights.
However, Kluwe’s letter also changes the public face of American professional sports.
The perception of professional sports in the U.S. is one of entertainment, competition, and masculine bravado.
This traditional masculine persona often seems at odds with developing attitudes toward homosexuality and gender roles in America. While there has yet to be an openly gay athlete in the NFL, Kluwe’s letter is inspiring and indicative of how attitudes in the industry are changing.
Kluwe’s remarks foreshadow a time when “It Gets Better” videos and movements will no longer be necessary; when people are treated equally regardless of sexual orientation.
The fact that Burns’ letter attacked freedom of speech as well as the right to marriage shows how fear and intolerance are constantly at odds with these basic human rights. The U.S. was formed from the first principle, and now it is only a matter of time until it accepts the second.
Support, especially from those regarded as American role models like Ayanbadejo and Kluwe, will help move marriage equality toward greater acceptance.