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Changing in the locker room

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo is rallying in front of the Supreme Court today as its justices hear a challenge to California’s Prop 8. Ayanbadejo, who is from California, is one of a group of NFL players who filed a brief in the case supporting same-sex marriage. He’s opened up to USA Today about how things are changing in the locker room.

On how he thinks there will be an out player in baseball before football or basketball: Honestly, I think it will happen in baseball sooner than in football or basketball. The reason I say that is because I think there is less of a connection to religion in baseball. The religious roots are a lot deeper in basketball and football. With that being said, I think baseball players are more open minded.

On how religion is preventing football players from coming out: The baseball players I have known from growing up — I’ve known guys like Pat Burrell — just my interaction with the baseball players and them being on the road and stuff, their lives are a lot different. Whereas, the football guys, we have chapel every Sunday, no matter where we are — there are a lot of religious things going on, whether it’s chapel or Mass or whatever religious group you’re a part of, we have something for you.

We do prayers before and after every game. I don’t know if baseball is like that, but I don’t think that it is. I played baseball for 12 years growing up as a kid. So I don’t know. I could be wrong. But I just felt that they were a bit more open-minded and not so tied to religion as much as football and basketball. 

On how homophobia still exists in the locker room: I think that is still the gorilla in the room. I think that’s the hardest thing. Even though mentalities are changing, how is your language changing? How are your actions changing? Because when you’re still using those homophobic slurs, even if you don’t mean them like (49ers’ Chris) Culliver, he was using those words and it really hurt people.

Not just change in what you do but you have to change in the things you say. You just can’t say those things anymore. That’s what really becoming an ally is. Not just in your mind where you accept LGBT people but also in your language and the things you say.