NBA and WNBA in LGBT Pride Parade
After America’s deadliest mass shooting, the community has gathered to show support for the LGBT community. The Orlando shooting instilled fear in the country, but this Sunday, people stood together with a sense of courage at New York’s Pride Parade. People old and young, gay and straight, formed a bond - a community who showed resilience and strength in the face of horror. The most striking of attendees were perhaps those that made history this weekend. The NBA and WNBA became the first professional sports leagues to celebrate the LGBT community with their very own float. Most notably, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and WNBA president Lisa Borders participated in the parade and voiced their support for the victims and those affected by the tragedy. Former NBA player Jason Collins was among those who represented the league. He made headlines in 2013 when he became the first active athlete to publicly announce that he was gay. Joining him on the float was Sue Wicks, the first openly gay WNBA player. They marched in solidarity with the community and represented LGBT pride with rainbow colored NBA team logos on their shirts. The historic landmark is a huge stride in the sports world. The commissioner worried less about reputation and controversy and focused on the overall purpose: showing support for the victims of Orlando. It was not a question of beliefs, but rather standing with those who have fallen due to an act of hatred.
What does this mean for professional sports? In a 2014 poll conducted by the Huffington Post, 65 percent of Americans said that they would approve of their team acquiring an openly gay player, while only 18 percent said they would disapprove. The majority of American sports fans seem to be supporting gay players, but yet, only a handful of athletes have publicly addressed their sexuality. The people who do seem to care though? The leagues, themselves. Michael Sam was continually pressed about his sexuality prior to entering the NFL. His agent, Joe Barkett, said that the topic was constantly brought up by scouts. According to the Huffington Post, "Sports Illustrated quoted an anonymous 'assistant personnel man' who said that '90 percent of teams' had already found out Sam was gay before he announced it publicly, and claimed that most had dropped him lower on their draft lists as a result."
This attitude reflects the hesitance of athletes to be themselves in the professional sports environment. Fans are on board and it may promote teams to show their support as well. The basketball world is taking a stand and maybe it will inspire a new wave of acceptance among other sports leagues as the community continues to promote LGBT rights.