Last week I wrote about some of the learning that went on at the 2015 Big Sky Health & Wellness Symposium. Attendees had the privilege to hear from representatives from the University of Michigan from the Athletes Connected organization, as well as Wade Davis from the You Can Play project.
Wade Davis is a former Big Sky All-Conference cornerback from Weber State University. He enjoyed an NFL career playing for multiple teams over the course of six seasons before retiring due to injury. What makes Wade Davis different is that he is homosexual.
According to www.YouCanPlayProject.org, “You Can Play is dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation. You Can Play works to guarantee that athletes are given a fair opportunity to compete, judged by other athletes and fans alike, only by what they contribute to the sport or their team’s success. You Can Play seeks to challenge the culture of locker rooms and spectator areas by focusing only on an athlete’s skills, work ethic and competitive spirit.”
Wade Davis spent most of his time discussing how to rid intercollegiate and professional sports of homophobia, sexism, and racism. He was a great speaker and very engaging. I imagine it was more than a little intimidating getting up in front of athletic directors and university presidents from likely the most conservative athletic conference in the NCAA.
I really enjoyed what he had to say, especially about ending sexism. As a man who enjoys sports and has two little girls, this is one thing that I am extremely interested in. Below are some of the notes I took:
- On sexist comments in sports: “You’re never going to make your son a better man by putting down your daughter.”
- Ending sexism frees men too.
- Men could suddenly talk, act, walk, and sing, etc. however they want.
- Family is the hallmark of sport. A sense of community is what all athletes enjoy.
- You are exhibiting “wasted motion” by not living who you really are.
- Hurt people hurt people.
- Be uncomfortable. It is how you grow, make change.
- Practice what you teach.
- “Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.” – Mya Angelou
- LGBT student-athletes are not different, but they have different problems and concerns.
- Show support for everyone by putting the ‘You Can Play’ badge on a program.
I love the slogan, “If you can play, you can play.” I hope I have the ability to support those around me and help SUU become a better destination by loving everyone around me and not letting prejudice stand in the way.