This is a quote from an interview this week with Jim Tressel, the Ohio State football coach whose team won the Rose Bowl this year. Tressel agreed to do the interview with Outlook Columbus, a local GLBT magazine. I am not sure of this, but I am betting it is the first time a Division 1 football coach has sat down for an interview with an LGBT publication.
He has some great things to say about his coaching philosophy in general and some specific things to say about coaching gay football players and importance of appreciation for differences on a team.
Here are a few quotes from his interview that stood out for me:
“We strive to teach and model appreciation for everyone,” Tressel says. “One, we are a family. If you haven’t learned from your family at home that people have differences and those strengthen the whole, then you are hopefully going to learn it as part of the Ohio State football family.”
“We try to tell our guys that an authentic you is the best you,” Tressel says. “That’s truly what freedom means, and the beauty of living in America. People can live their beliefs.”
When asked by the interviewer to impart one winning concept to his GLBT students, alumni, faculty and fans, he replied: “If we appreciate each other, then we have a chance for something great.
Because we don’t often hear football coaches talk about diversity and inclusion, specifically when it refers to LGBT people, I’m tempted to speculate about why Coach Tressel decided to do this interview. Is it because he has some gay players on his team? Does he have LGBT family members? Maybe one of his assistant coaches is gay.
In the end, though it doesn’t really matter what motivated Coach Tressel to speak out, I’m just really appreciative that he did. Thanks, Coach. I think I have to become an OSU football fan now.