January 25, 2021 (New York, NY) — Athlete Ally responded today to reports of newly-hired NFL Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell’s homophobic remarks made in his 20’s, and his apology.
As a college athlete at Texas A&M in the late 90’s, Campbell spoke at a pep rally before a football game saying that he was proud to attend a university where “men like women and women like men.” During last week’s introductory press conference, Campbell said, “I wish I wouldn’t have said it, and if I could go back I wouldn’t have. But here we are and it’s out there, and all I can do is apologize for it.. I offended some people, and I’m sorry for that. It was heat of the moment. It’s not necessarily that I directed it at anyone.”
While Campbell’s apology is a step in the right direction, it lacks a greater understanding of the true impact words like his have on LGBTQ+ athletes. Regardless of intent, homophobic language plays a significant role in making athletes feel unsafe to come out, or that they have to leave sports altogether. We hope to see Campbell’s apology followed up with meaningful education on obstacles to LGBTQI+ inclusion in sport, and the role that allies can play in shutting down discriminatory language on the field, in the locker room, or anywhere they find it.