Last week we ran the full article of an interview with Ohio State Buckeyes head football coach Jim Tressel, conducted by Outlook (an Ohio-based gay magazine). The editor of the magazine had asked us to run the article and we happily obliged, since it is (as far as we know) the first time a top-tier college head football coach granted an interview to a gay magazine.
The article has gotten lots of traction, particularly on mainstream sports sites. From Dan Wetzel at Yahoo (in which he interviewed our very own Jim Buzinski):
Jim Tressel is as conservative as his sweater vest. He's a devout Christian who wrote a book about faith and leadership. He boasts a personality that, at least publicly, is more gray than scarlet; a multimillionaire who still mows his own lawn.
The buttoned-down Ohio State coach just took part in what is apparently a major college football first. He exchanged emails last month with Outlook Columbus magazine, the initial interview a big-time coach has done with a publication that serves the gay community.
Yes, Senator Sweater Vest is a progressive pioneer.
Michael David Smith at Fanhouse talked about the power of Tressel's words in fighting the lack of gay athletes in NCAA football:
Tressel's comments could go a long way toward changing that. Every gay high school football player now knows there's at least one big-time college program where he could be himself. That's progress, and something for which Tressel deserves a great deal of credit.
ESPN's Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg also spoke glowingly of Tressel:
Kudos to Tressel for doing this and addressing a subject that is still very taboo in college football. Most fans want their coaches to focus strictly on X's and O's, but Tressel's influence in Ohio stretches far beyond the gridiron. His voice matters, and his message of acceptance comes through here.
We all assume so much homophobia in football, but over and over again we see evidence to the contrary. Thanks to Tressel for contributing his voice.