Monday, May 16, 2011

HIO: Props to Rick Welts

Props to Rick Welts. The man of praise is the President and CEO of the NBA's Phoenix Suns. Instrumental in the creation of the NBA's All-Star Weekend and annual dunk contest, Welts also served instrumental in the launching of the WNBA in 1997. In 1998, he was named "Marketer of the Year" by Brandweek Magazine after the WNBA's first season. As one of the league's most accomplished and influential senior front office executives, Rick Welts made this news this weekend for another, more personal reason.

Just the day prior to Kobe Bryant's anti-gay, on-camera slur, Welts met with NBA commissioner David Stern. In that meeting, Welts told Stern he was gay. Just this Sunday, Welts came public with his sexuality via Dan Barry's piece in The New York Times.

As one that personally hits home for me, Welts is an accomplished pioneer in professional basketball and is now poised to become a role model for members of the LGBT community, particularly the youth afraid of pursuing a career in sports. While other aspects of society may be slowly adopting a more accepting atmosphere, the competitive nature of sports makes it one of the most homophobic areas of American culture. Just ask Kobe.

Props to Rick Welts for his courage. Times are changing. Now, we just need a gay individual who is able to be open about it from the get go, to go on and have the professional success Welts has had. It will happen, I can personally asure you that fact.

In addition to serving as President of the Sport Management Student Union (SMTSU), Kevin Giordano is a sophomore Sport Management major at Drexel University with industry experience working in men's and women's professional soccer and collegiate athletics. To contact or connect with Kevin, you can follow him on Twitter (@KevinGiordano) or connect with him here on LinkedIn.

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