Thursday, May 22, 2014

Guard the Post: Notre Dame shows LGBT athletes support, despite Catholic association

Three weeks ago, the University of Notre Dame, possibly the most famous Catholic University in the world, released a video on the internet that has since gone viral. In association with the You Can Play project, Notre Dame's athletic department tells all their athletes, no matter their sexual orientation or sport, that they can play.

This past October, during the first annual Sport for Social Change Conference (S4SC) hosted by Drexel SMTSU, there was a panel discussion and activity on LGBT Issues in Sport. The panel was headlined by GO! Athletes and Craig Cassey Jr., former out track star at Georgetown who now works as an advocate and educator nationally on issues surrounding gay athletes. A lot of the conversation during the panel was that there needed to be a change in mentality nationwide about the idea of gay athletes in sport, and that it would need to start at the institution and team level.

Last week, Michael Sam became the first openly gay man to be drafted by an NFL team when the St. Louis Rams selected him with the 249th overall selection. ESPN has received praise from the masses for covering Michael Sam the whole weekend and filming the embrace and kiss between him and his boyfriend following the draft selection.

The drafting of Michael Sam showed that the Rams were capable of seeing past his sexual orientation and recognizing that the SEC Defensive Player of the Year might be a valuable addition to the team. The airing of the kiss and celebration showed that ESPN recognized the landmark moment for Michael, his boyfriend, and his family; it was no different to the media conglomerate than had it been Michael with a girlfriend.

This kind of acceptance is the trend for professional teams and large companies, but college athletic departments have been relatively silent on the issue, other than in a responsive nature. This purposeful intolerance is what led to me being so surprised, yet pleased, by this video out of Notre Dame.

The below video is a collection of short clips of different athletes from many sports telling athletes that "if you can (insert action in that sport), you can play."

As a catholic, Notre Dame is the pinnacle University. Before it became an athletic powerhouse in basically every sport, before Rudymen laid the foundations for a large university with the principles and vision of the Catholic faith. Many Catholics have the opinion that being gay is a sin, based on certain bible passages, which is another reason this video is so forward-thinking and bold.
Looking to the future, this statement of support by Notre Dame needs to become the norm nationwide.


Kevin Murray is a Pre-Junior Sport Management major at Drexel University, originally from Havertown, PA. In the past, Kevin has worked for Drexel Sport Management doing research on Title IX and collegiate sport, as well as for Drexel Athletics in multiple roles culminating in his first co-op in the External Relations department, where he still works part-time. Along with his duties as a Resident Assistant on campus and as the Vice President of Drexel SMTSU, Kevin is currently on co-op with the Drexel University Office of Institutional Advancement as a Student Liaison for their Alumni Discovery Initiative.  You can follow Kevin on Twitter @kevinj_murray

Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn.

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