The conversation about gay athletes and their potential presence as part of a major sports team has become a hot topic recently. It's an extremely sensitive issue for those involved, which was recently discussed by members of the LSU football team.
Mike Gegenheimer of the Daily Reveille, the university's student newspaper, talked with multiple members of the Tigers about what a gay teammate could mean for a team. He received a wide range of responses on the issue.
Running back Alfred Blue didn't know how a gay teammate would be received by players of a physical sport like football.
Football is supposed to be this violent sport—this aggressive sport that grown men are supposed to play. Ain’t no little boys out here between them lines. So if you gay, we look at you as a sissy. You know? Like, how you going to say you can do what we do and you want a man?
Blue also stated the Tigers don't have an openly gay player on the team right now.
Trai Turner, an offensive lineman preparing for his second season at LSU, said everybody in the locker room would need to take a professional approach to the situation.
College football is a business and you have to conduct yourself in a manner where you respect everyone you deal with. I feel like if the person is gay, he must still conduct himself in the manner of a football player, and if a person isn’t gay, he must still look at the person who views himself as gay, or says he is gay, as his teammate.
Finally, kicker James Hairston said the entire situation takes on a much bigger scale in terms of treating people from all walks of life with respect.
I believe that this is an important issue, one that does need to come to the forefront, that does need to be talked about. But I think the main thing is people can learn as fans, as athletes, as just people in general, just respect one another and it ends at that.
The thoughts of Blue, Turner and Hairston give good insight into what a gay teammate might mean for a team. Three different players, all of whom occupy distinctly different roles for the Tigers, have three personal opinions about what could be a challenging situation.
With a roster as large as a college football team, there are always going to be opposing views about any number of subjects. Figuring out a way to handle those conflicting outlooks is one thing that teams will be forced to address should an active player come out as gay.
LSU head coach Les Miles understands that possible issue.
I would handle it as what’s important and what’s best for the team. I would treat him, and expect his teammates to treat him, in an appropriate and straightforward manner. ... It would have to be something that I took to an office and kind of describe how I saw locker rooms and how I saw travel and how I saw staying in hotel rooms and how I saw those things. If that’s not an issue, I think things could be resolved.
Nobody knows exactly how the situation would play out until it actually happens. That's one of the main reasons why the subject has garnered so much attention. It's uncharted territory for major sports teams.
All they can do for now is prepare for the prospect of a gay athlete in a respectable manner. It appears that's what Miles is doing at LSU with a group of players that each view the situation in their own way.