Today the NFL Network featured a fantastic conversation between Steve Mariucci, Marshall Faulk, Kurt Warner and Michael Irvin. The topic was locker room environment and the relationships between coaches and players.
We keep being told by people who largely don't know what they're talking about that sports are a desperately homophobic place and athletes are knuckle-dragging Neanderthals. Yet we consistently get evidence of the complete opposite: Sports teams are melting pots that provide opportunities for athletes and coaches to learn about people who aren't like them.
The men talked about this very dynamic of sports, and both Faulk and Mariucci specifically talked about different sexual orientations being a part of the locker room. The power of the locker room to bridge gaps of understanding is as powerful as any other in our culture.
"I got a chance to get out of the South in a sense to see something different," Faulk said. "And sports it'll do that for you. It will help you grow as a person. I'm thankful that football gave me an avenue to get out of a culture that's a cycle that will keep you stuck if you mentally can't grow."
I've personally spoken to all of them at some point about gay athletes, and each of them has been very accepting in his comments to me, including Warner and Irvin who are both devout Christians.
Check out the entire video on NFL.com. If you want to really understand how sports create understanding across differences, it's well worth the six minutes.