Next month, the Minnesota Vikings and one of their former players will be holding a summit on an issue that is becoming more and more a part of the world of athletics.
Chris Kluwe, the former Vikings’ punter, will be a part of the NFL’s first ever large-scale summit focused on the inclusion of LGBTQ athletes in sports. The event will take place on 21 June, and will take place at the new Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center in Eagan.
The summit will include panels featuring gay, lesbian, and transgender athletes and coaches, and is expected to include about 200 athletes from various LGBTQ organizations across the Twin Cities. Some of the athletes that are apparently set to be there are former Olympic diving gold medalist Greg Lougainis, triathlete Chris Mosier, and former Vikings’ defensive tackle Esera Tuaolo.
The event will also include a fundraiser for national and local LGBTQ charities.
“I think it sends a message that we at the Vikings, and others, believe in being inclusive,” Vikings chief operating officer Kevin Warren told USA TODAY Sports. “My hope and desire is that this inspires individuals, this inspires businesses and corporate entities, and inspires sports teams, in all sports, to really sit back and say, this is a fact of life. This is reality. We have individuals who may be in pain on our teams. They may not feel they have an opportunity to talk about these issues, and hopefully this is the spark to get some of these issues out on the table and allow people to become more comfortable in addressing these issues.”
Kluwe appears to be optimistic that this summit hosted by the Vikings is something that could, eventually, happen with all NFL teams, and likely across other sports as well.
“Ideally, it’s not just one team doing it — it’s something that a lot of teams are looking at it and saying, ‘Hey, we can do something like this,’” Kluwe told USA TODAY Sports. “Hopefully it goes off really well for the Vikings. Regardless of my situation with them and how that ended, the big goal is to make sure that other athletes don’t have to go through that situation and that LGBTQ athletes are able to be who they are.”
Honestly, I’m not sure how this can be viewed as anything but a positive. Athletes should be able to pursue their athletic goals on the field regardless of who they are off of it, and things like sexual orientation or any number of other factors shouldn’t be something that others can use as a target to keep them from reaching those goals.
I’m thrilled that the Vikings are doing this, and hopefully it’s something that catches on more widely across the sports world.