If the Baltimore Ravens win the Super Bowl on Sunday, Brendon Ayanbadejo probably won’t have a trip Disney World on his mind. Instead, the linebacker is using his AFC championship-status to tackle a couple of issues that are not normally associated with the NFL – same-sex marriage and anti-bullying.
Ayanbadejo has been an advocate for marriage equality for many years, but now that he’s headed to the big game, even more media outlets are paying attention. In fact, just a quick Google search shows “Ayanbadejo gay marriage” is the second most suggested term after his name.
Ayanbadejo’s stance is an important one. First, he is publicly taking a stand in support of same-sex marriage when he works in an environment where homophobia is prevalent. The more professional athletes who speak out against discrimination, the better chance we have at creating a more accepting culture.
Secondly, American football is well…American. We take pride in our country, our freedom, and of course, our sports. What better platform to speak from than the most-watched sporting event in the U.S.?
Ayanbadejo said it best in his opinion piece for the Huffington Post:
Maybe I am a man ahead of my time. However, looking at the former restrictions on human rights in our country starting with slavery, women not being able to vote, blacks being counted as two thirds of a human, segregation, no gays in the military (to list a few) all have gone by the wayside. But now here in 2009 same sex marriages are prohibited. I think we will look back in 10, 20, 30 years and be amazed that gays and lesbians did not have the same rights as everyone else. How did this ever happen in the land of the free and the home of the brave? Are we really free?
It remains to be seen if the Ravens will pull off a win this Sunday. He might not be headed to Disney World, but he is on his way to dancing on the Ellen Degeneres Show, to collaborating with marriage equality organizations, to writing politicians to enlist their support. Maybe by next year’s Super Bowl XLVIII, his vision will be closer to reality. With people like him on our team, I’m willing to bet that we’ll get there.
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