All any of us want is an opportunity to be judged on our ability. Everybody, regardless of background or sexual orientation, deserves that chance.”
The message is simple: non-heterosexual male identities have long been stigmatized in the world of American sports, even though a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity has no bearing on that person’s athletic ability.
The New York Giants are the first NFL team to promote LGBT inclusivity through the You Can Play project, according to the Huffington Post. The team’s mission statement has also been updated to include “eras[ing] homophobia from locker rooms and sports venues.”
According to a press release from the Giants, the team has taken several steps, including a grant to You Can Play and a special tailgate on December 20, 2015, to extend messages of acceptance to players, staff, and fans.
Several other teams, both in the NFL and in other leagues, have unofficially made efforts to eradicate the stigma of homosexuality, as well. Michael Sam is currently the only NFL player who is openly gay; he unfortunately only made it to the St. Louis Rams practice team before the season began, but is still speaking up for more LGBT acceptance in professional sports.
The Giants’ You Can Play Video features both current and former Giants players, and although it’s only 30 seconds long, it has already circulated through several social media sites (which is no surprise, considering that internet users prefer visual content and websites with videos are even more likely to rank higher on Google searches).
Steve Tisch, the Giants’ chairman, explained that every player in the video was excited and proud to show the team’s support for LGBT causes.
“We have an incredible platform to address serious issues in our society, not just in sports,” Tisch said. “And there is no better use of our platform than to state unequivocally that everybody — including the LGBT community, which includes athletes and coaches; administrators and fans — deserves an opportunity to play and succeed based on ability and merit.”