In a move that could spark major progress in acceptance of homosexual athletes in collegiate sports, UCLA Bruins head football coach Jim Mora has become the first current FBS coach to encourage gay athletes and coaches to join his program.
According to a report from Yahoo! Sports' Graham Watson, UCLA athletics is the latest to release a "You Can Play" video. The project is aimed at encouraging acceptance of young gay athletes while curtailing homophobia that exists inside locker rooms and with fans.
Watson's report notes that Mora is the first FBS head coach to appear in a "You Can Play" video, and he is featured alongside quarterback Brett Hundley. The 51-year-old Mora, who is entering his second season at UCLA, spoke candidly about the school's openness to diversity in the video.
“At UCLA, we play with integrity and we honor diversity," said Mora. "We respect all athletes and coaches. If you can play, you can play. And if you can coach, you can coach.”
Mora spoke to OutSports recently about being accepting of differences between players, whether racial or pertaining to sexual orientation.
"It doesn't matter to me," Mora said (via OutSports). "I don't judge people on their color of their skin, their sexual orientation, their religious beliefs. It doesn't matter to me."
As Watson's report notes, Duke University athletics recently did a "You Can Play" video as well. Head football coach David Cutcliffe and head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski did not appear in it.
By making his stance known, Mora joins a groundswell of major sports figures speaking out publicly as accepting of gay athletes. Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander, Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin and plenty of others have stated they would accept a gay teammate, going against the notion that someone's sexual orientation could be a distraction.
Mora's openness breaks a whole new barrier for homosexual athletes. While the focus in the mainstream has mostly been on a professional athlete coming out, there is no currently known FBS player who is openly homosexual.
By appearing in the "You Can Play" video and making his stance public, perhaps that first player could come from UCLA's program. But even if not, Mora is opening his door for even greater acceptance across all sports—not just football.