David Ortiz has never been one to mix his words when it comes to topics he's passionate about. His stirring speech prior to the Boston Red Sox first home game following the tragic Boston Marathon bombing last April being a classic example of his straight forward and unfiltered expression of his feelings.
Nearly one year later, Ortiz is bringing that same genuine passion to another topic that has surfaced in the wake of University of Missouri defensive end and hopeful NFL draft pick Michael Sam announcing he's gay. The 38-year-old slugger says he would absolutely welcome a gay player in the Red Sox clubhouse if one emerged or was acquired while he was still active, and he drove his point as only he can.
“It’s the (expletive) 21st century man. Get over it.”
Ortiz could have dropped the mic there if he wanted to, but he had a lot more to say while speaking with Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald earlier this week.
Ortiz credited his mother, Angela, for opening his eyes at a very young age and teaching him about acceptance. That mindset was ingrained in Ortiz and has stuck with him throughout his life, allowing him to view matters such as a accepting a gay teammate from a far more advanced perspective than others might be capable of or even willing to try.
But as advanced as his perspective may be in today's world, it's really quite simple.
“I’m nobody to judge anyone.”
“I have gay friends and we have great relationships when it comes down to respecting each other. It’s not something you choose to be. It’s not like, ‘I want to be a baseball player,’ or, ‘I want to be a basketball player.’ It’s something you’re born with and everybody needs to accept that. Hey, look, the way I see things, I love people the way they are. Especially if you are honest with yourself. You know what I’m saying?"
Ortiz's final point perhaps being his most effective.
Ortiz also credits Jason Collins — who came out last year as the first active gay athlete while playing for the Washington Wizards — for having the strength to open doors and make it easier for other gay athletes to come out in the future. It was a game-changing moment in sports history, but Ortiz deserves some credit as well.
As Buckley notes, Ortiz’ words carry significant weight not only within the Red Sox organization, but throughout baseball. Players of his stature speaking up can and will go a long way towards making other gay athletes feel comfortable about being honest with themselves and honest with their teammates.
It's a good start, but we need more guys willing to speak out so that comfort level can expand even further. A more comfortable atmosphere will breed more honesty, and more honesty will breed acceptance when all is said and done. The more we get of both, the faster we'll turn it into an accepted way of life within sports.
BLS H/N: SB Nation's Out Sports
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