The social media reaction to NFL defensive tackle Carl Nassib of the Las Vegas Raiders telling the world he is gay has been positive and heartfelt. Maybe this is a sign of our society maturing and accepting a Gay man into our mainstream sports.
Or maybe not.
“The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “We share his hope that someday soon that statements like this will no longer be newsworthy as we march toward full equality for the LGBTQ+ community.”
“We wish Carl the best of luck this season.”
“Some things are bigger than a rivalry,” tweeted the Los Angeles Chargers.
Words mean nothing to me. Actions do.
How do ignorant fans with liquid courage pouring through their bloodstream react? And how do teams react if said fans misbehave and begin chanting homophobic slurs? That’s the key test. It is easy to praise Nassib on social media.
It is the right thing to do. And it is the safe thing to do today.
We live in a volatile society. It sometimes feels like the 1960s again, where fear and ignorance ruled the day. We have record numbers of people perpetrating crimes against Asians and Jews. We are still trying to convince the nation that Black lives matter. More people are catching on. Everybody has not.
We don’t even know how to behave on airplanes and in restaurants.
There is really no sound reason for the hate that cripples our nation. People believe the old Asian man with a Japanese or Korean heritage is responsible for Covid-19 that originated in China. So what do some people do? They spit on fellow Americans. They curse them and punch them.
People from the LGBTQ community are still beaten up and shot because they are different from mainstream society. Once again, there is no sound reason. That’s just what some people do.
Someday, Nassib will play a road game in Denver or Chicago or maybe even at Ford Field. There will be people in the crowd who don’t know him, don’t like him, and that liquid courage of beer and perhaps a shot or two will take over.
They will forget about cheering for their team and direct anti-Gay slurs at Nassib. If the NFL is serious about supporting Nassib, they will have these people removed from the stadium and permanently banned from their games.
Additionally, if the NFL is serious about supporting Nassib, they will begin a campaign during the season saying they will not tolerate such foolishness. Fans won’t risk a ban from the game they love. That might cut down on outward displays of ignorance and hate.
Please don’t say it won’t happen, as if we are above such behavior as a society.
We are not.