Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban is one of the top coaches in college football. Much of that is due to his ability to recruit and sign the type of players that will help his football team win games. With Michael Sam making history by becoming the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team, more college coaches will be asked if they would welcome a gay player. Saban said on Tuesday that he would have no problem recruiting or signing a gay player.
It is a question that has surfaced amongst NFL and college coaches on whether teams are ready or even willing to accept an openly gay player. Saban said he would not have a problem because he hasn’t with some gay players he has already coached in the past. It all comes down to respect. He said on the Twitter feed of Tampa Bay Times reporter Antonya English, “As long as we respect them, and they should respect us, I would have no problem with it.”
Saban is also a close friend and former teammate of Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, who coached Michael Sam. The coaches and team rallied around Sam when he came out as gay to them. The bond the team formed showed NFL coaches that both acceptance and comfort is highly possible. What was more impressive is the team’s collective effort to keep Sam’s sexuality private. Of course, that all comes back to the respect Saban mentioned.
A college coach recruiting an openly gay player is something that hasn’t happened yet, at least publicly. So when it does happen, it would become a big deal because, like the NFL, it would show society the open arms of society and most importantly, athletes will be seen as athletes. That is when sexuality will take a back seat to performance on the field.