U.S. College/Aussie Football News: College Player Booted for Kissing Boyfriend; Soccer Player Launches Gay Campaign
A gay football player for North Dakota State College claims he was removed from the school's team after he was seen kissing his boyfriend during a game, Dan Savage reported in Seattle alt-weekly the Stranger.
During a game between North Dakota State College and Snow College in Pueblo, Col., Jamie Kuntz, 18, apparently outed himself by giving his 65-year-old boyfriend a quick peck.
Kuntz was sitting out the game out due to a concussion but was helping film the game from the press box. Keeping him company was his boyfriend and at one point, Kuntz gave him a kiss, which some teammates saw.
On the bus ride home, Chuck Parsons, the football team's head coach, asked him about the kiss. Kuntz (who says he has always been attracted to older men) lied and said he kissed his grandfather. A few days later, however, the teen was booted from the team.
"He said he didn't care what people did in their personal lives, but it was a big mistake to do that on a football trip," Kuntz told Savage. "I said, 'Yeah, I made a big mistake and I apologized again for lying.' Then he handed me a letter and said he was kicking me off the team because what I did was 'detrimental' to the team and I was a 'distraction.'"
For his part, Parsons wrote that he removed Kuntz from the team "solely on the basis of your conduct during the football game" and for lying. According to Savage, other teammates have been caught drinking, while others have "criminal charges and convictions." They have all remained active players.
"I don't feel that I should've been kicked off the team for this," Kuntz said. "It was a kiss. It was a mistake, but it was just a kiss. We weren't making out."
After the incident, Kuntz has dropped out of school and is living with his mother. She discovered he was gay after he changed his Twitter bio from "football player" to "gay football player."
Although Kuntz's coming out process may have not been as smooth as he wanted, Australian amateur soccer player Jason Ball's coming out seemed more seamless.
After coming out, Ball, 24, then started a petition on Change.org to remove homophobia from the Australian Football League. The athlete's campaign aims to air a "No to Homophobia ad" during the AFL Grand Final, which as Pink News points out, is similar to airing a "It Gets Better" commercial during the Super Bowl.
Ball said the petition, which has currently has 20,000 signatures, was "terrifying to write" but "important. It's a blokey culture and gay slurs are a regular part of games and training," Ball said. "It's a horrible reminder that you're different, reviled, and unwelcome."
Maybe not so much anymore: Ball has received positive responses from teammates. He says he has been "pretty lucky."
"I think the players are ready for change. The clubs are ready for change. The supporters are ready for change," he said. "We just need the AFL to lead and help shift the sporting culture so that players and fans like me can openly be who we are without fear."
Both incidents are indicative that change comes slowly to sports at various levels.
Most recently, there was a dramatic and well-publicized incident that solidified a change in attitudes among National Football League players, owners and (judging from comments on various sports fans and news sites) fans. After Emmett C. Burns Jr., a Democrat state legislator from Baltimore County, slammed Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo for his support for marriage equality, EDGE reported, Burns was flamed by another NFL player.
Burns, having gotten wind that Ayanbadejo backed gay marriage, fired off an angry letter to the Ravens' owner Steve Biscotti in which he said he was "appalled and aghast that a member of the Raves Football Team would step into this controversial divide."
Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluew, a vociferous backer of same-sex marriage, defended Ayanbadejo. In an open letter and pointed language, he sharply criticizing the politician.
"Your vitriolic hatred and bigotry make me ashamed and disgusted to think that you are in any way responsible for shaping policy at any level," Kluwe wrote. "Why do you hate the fact that other people want a chance to live their lives and be happy, even though they may believe in something different than you, or act different than you? How does gay marriage, in any way, shape or form, affect your life?"