Read Carries Op-Ed, “Finding the Right Words to Tell My Kids About LGBT Athletes” on Huffington Post
Carrie Sheinberg is a former American Olympic alpine skier. She was slalom expert during her competitive career and was named to the U.S. ski team at the age of 17 (and raced on it for eight years). At the age of 21 she skied in the slalom event at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, finishing as the top U.S. competitor. Sheinberg won the U.S. alpine 1995 combined title (in Park City) and 1997 slalom titles, and the 1997 giant slalom at the U.S. Alpine Championships in Sugarloaf, Maine. She retired in 1998. Sheinberg then attended the University of Utah, and was a sports reporter for the Salt Lake Tribute. After two years as a producer for ESPN Radio she worked as a reporter for Sirius Satellite Radio. She resides in Somerville, MA with her husband and son. Read more about her, below.
Q: What does allyship mean to you?
A: It’s a chance. An opportunity to show support and give strength to those already entrenched in the fight for acceptance and inclusion of LGBT athletes. Perhaps even more exciting is the chance to reach those most in need of education and to help usher in a more understanding, supportive and healthier sporting culture.
Q: The Olympic Charter makes clear that the Games do not discriminate. As a former Olympian, in what ways do you think the International Olympic Committee can better promote inclusion in sports and LGBT equality?
A: Certainly the easiest answer is for the IOC to reject any country hoping to host the Games if their laws and culture are hostile to LGBT citizens/athletes. The competitions at the Olympic Games manage to exist outside of politics; but for a long time the Games themselves (and often even the athletes) have been propagandized and politicized. So the IOC needs to rewrite parts of the Charter to directly state that discrimination against LGBT athletes will not be tolerated. Changing language goes a long way toward changing behavior. The IOC should also pressure its sponsors to think and act more inclusively – holding their sponsors to the same standard they hold themselves and their athletes.
Q: Having covered professional sports for outlets like ESPN and others, what is your perspective do you have on the level of LGBT diversity present in sports today?
A: After years of working in sports media environments where jock culture’s stereotypical machismo dominated, it is thrilling to feel and see the surge of change. Michael Sam, Britteny Griner and Jason Collins are a few examples of courageous players making tracks for more to follow in but it is crucial to keep pushing. Just like President Obama’s election as our nation’s first African American President didn’t solve racial tensions instantly, neither will the mere existence of a few visible gay athletes in professional sports. Now is the time to use the momentum generated by these athletes to infuse sports and the people who cover them with understanding and openness.
Q: Talking about inclusion at the youth level is so important within the athletic community. How do you go about fostering allyship with own children? How can we all help ensure that the next generation of athletes understands and values the core principle of respect?
A: Attitudes are taught. Children are impressionable. The number one thing to do as a parent is lead by example – live a life that is inclusionary. But equally important is to talk about differences openly and confront the difficult questions.