Calgary Stampeders' receiver Maurice Price's Twitter comments about gay NFL player Michael Sam Monday evening created quite the controversy, and they've caused both his team and the league to disavow his views. The team issued a Twitter statement Monday that they were "outraged" by his "repugnant" comments, and the league weighed in with a fine for Price (as previously seen with ones levied against Arland Bruce and Bryant Turner for homophobic social media comments) and similarly strong language emphasizing that the CFL is open to gay players Tuesday morning. Here's the key part of the league's statement:
“The CFL will not tolerate discrimination of any kind,” said CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon. “Whether its race, religion or sexual preference, our values are of acceptance and equality. We fully support openly gay athletes in our league, and in the sports community in general.”
Meanwhile, Scott Fisher of The Calgary Sun spoke to Price to see what point he was trying to get across with his tweets:
Reached late in the afternoon, Price said he has no issue with Sam or that he’s an openly gay player but defended his own right to have an opinion on homosexuality.
“I wish Michael Sam nothing but the best and I hope he goes and has a fantastic career,” Price said.
“It’s nothing personal against him.
“People think I’m saying he shouldn’t be drafted into the NFL, or they shouldn’t have homosexual players. That’s not it at all.
“I was speaking about homosexuality in general. As a Christian, obviously it’s not something I can condone or accept.”
Well, plenty of Christians would undoubtedly disagree with Price there, and his stance that all Christians think the same on this is problematic. One who would probably argue with him would be teammate Jon Cornish's mother Margaret, a long-time Anglican priest who happens to be married to a woman. It's also notable that Catholic institutions such as Notre Dame have joined the You Can Play campaign in support of acceptance of all athletes. There are stories of acceptance from many denominations, so for Price to portray homosexuality as something unilaterally condemned by Christians is inaccurate. Still, his views are his own, and they're not exclusive to him. It's interesting that he went on to say he's not a homophobe, though:
“I’m not a homophobe,” Price said. “A homophobe is someone who can’t associate or be around gays.
“As far as practicing Christianity, it’s just something I believe in.
“It’s a sin. It’s no worse and no more than robbing or stealing is a sin.
“It’s not personal against anybody. But Twitter takes it and people put their own spin on it.
“What kind of person would I be to say I don’t think the NFL, or the CFL for that matter, should allow gay players?
“That doesn’t make any sense.”
While it's positive that Price doesn't want to keep gay players out of football entirely, comments like this certainly would seem to illustrate the difficulties an openly-gay player can face. Regardless of how Price views his own comments, they've clearly struck a nerve with many who do find them homophobic and intolerant. That's why it makes sense for the Stampeders and the CFL to step in and send a message that public comments of this sort won't be accepted in this league, and that openly-gay players will. We'll see if this goes any further, with perhaps a team-imposed fine or suspension to follow. It would seem unlikely that Price will be kicked out of the league the way Arland Bruce was, but you never know. His comments have riled up plenty of people, and that's without anyone putting "their own spin on it."