Read that last sentence again, and appreciate for a moment how far fighters for LGBT equality have traveled.
In August, the 49ers became the first NFL franchise to film an "It Gets Better" video to combat anti-LGBT bullying in schools. The team was compelled to produce the public service announcement when a diehard Bay Area fan named Sean Chapin initiated a Change.org petition asking the 49ers to break the NFL's conspicuous silence. He received 16,000 online signatures, and the team responded. Several players were featured, with the most stirring comments coming from hard-hitting safety
As for the Ravens, they are the team of linebacker
After Baltimore beat the
After the email went public, Mr. Ayanbadejo spoke to Frank Bruni of
Mr. Ellner, who saw the impact athletes like Steve Nash and Michael Strachan had in the New York fight for marriage equality, said, "He understands that as a straight biracial player in the Super Bowl, he can have a huge impact on the future of this issue."
Mr. Ayanbadejo also told Mr. Bruni that he's been in contact with Hudson Taylor, who founded the organization Athlete Ally to challenge anti-gay bigotry on all levels in professional sports. "He's so excited and ready to take a stand in whatever way he can," said Mr. Taylor. "He is leveraging the biggest sports stage in the world."
This isn't the first time a Super Bowl player has tried to leverage "the biggest sports stage" to raise awareness about LGBT rights. Linebacker
Mr. Ayanbadejo has to know that using the Super Bowl to do something other than play the game and smile for the cameras carries a great deal of risk. He seems to be not only rising to the risk but taking great joy in the journey. The linebacker says that his dream is to win the Super Bowl and then dance with
In just three years, as Scott Fujita said, it's just a new world. Whether the NFL,
Dave Zirin is the author of "Bad Sports: How Owners Are Ruining the Games We Love" (Scribner). This article, Copyright 2013 The Nation, is distributed by Agence Global.