Family Focus: Athletes Coming Out - KMOT.COM - Minot, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Family Focus: Athletes Coming Out

Now that NBA basketball player Jason Collins has come out as a gay professional athlete, this could open the door for others.

Parents can feel comfort knowing their college student athlete will be judged only on their skill, rather than their personal life.

Student athletes are role models, and still accepted for being gay.

"Sports is just a reflection of what's happening out in society. In society you're seeing greater acceptance of people's sexualities, people's backgrounds, and sports is no different," said Steven Swenson, Minot State University Assistant Athletic Director.

"If people keep on, it will be a snowball affect; it will spread and be exponential," said Noah Rothermund, Minot State University sophomore, LGBT club member.

At the college level, bullying is at a minimum. At the LGBT club at Minot State University, one member says students there are more accepting, and the initial surprise of a gay star athlete will soon wear off.

"There may be a small spike of bullying, but it will fizzle out." Rothermund said.

At Minot State University, Swenson said it's not about the players; it's how they perform on the court. "Athletics is something where, if you can play and help the team on the field, on the court, that's all the coaches and teammates seem to care about."

Swenson said all the coaches are accepting of each player's way of life, religion, and sexual orientation. And the players understand this is the new norm.

"Every program has great acceptance with their program as far as they take athletes of all races, all sexual orientations, and all religions."

Parents want to protect their children from harm, judgment, and bullying. But these days, the coaches and players say the only thing they care about is their performance on the field.

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