Former College Football Team Captain was Openly Gay

By Paul M. Banks

Yesterday, the California supreme court voted 6-1 to uphold the ban on gay marriage voted in by Proposition 8 last November. The decision sparked massive protest demonstration all across the country. Within this political atmosphere I learned the story of Brian Sims, a former Defensive tackle and captain of the Bloomsburg University football team who came out to his team during his senior season. Sims’ story of his team succeeding both on the field and with the concept of tolerance is profiled on the website OutSports.com


“they never heard a single negative comment about Sims’ sexuality the rest of the year. Part of that was the timing. They were in the middle of a season for which they all had high hopes, and by the time most of the team found out about Sims, they had started talking about the playoffs. After starting the season 1-2, they ran off 11 straight wins and reached the 2000 Division II National Championship game. With the preparation and frenzy surrounding the team as they inched closer to the playoffs and then started winning playoff games, the sexuality of one of the team’s most respected players was the furthest from players’ concerns.”

As teammates found out, in the locker room no one moved away from Sims. No one shied away from him. His being gay became just more fodder for locker room teasing, like someone’s fat mom. Sims said he also became the dumping ground for every question his teammates had about gay people. “Straight guys tend to be the most curious about sex, in general,” Sims said. “My team asked me everything you can possibly ask a gay guy about sex, and in the crudest terms possible.”

I wasn’t even aware of Sims’ story or even that an alternative lifestyle oriented sports site existed until I received this email, perhaps the most enlightening electronic message I’ve received all month.

“Anyway, the story reminded me of your story from the Washington Post earlier this month about openly gay athletes in sports and Sims’ story seemed right on the mark.

Given what’s going on with gay marriage, school-yard bullying, and the lack of any good sporting news these days – this should be exactly the type of story you should follow up with: Good looking, all-American college jock comes out as America is increasingly becoming more tolerant!

All I know is that this guy is the only gay football captain to EVER come out of the closet and that is absolutely the kind of sports story that the Washington Post should be all over…plus he’s heard from athletes in like 30 states and over a dozen countries!

Dave Panchetti
Chicago, Ill.

Yes, I know Dave referred to the Washington Times as the Washington Post. I get that all the time, and get a kick out of it, and also correcting people can become tiresome. Getting back to Sims, his story is phenomenal and I plan to try and get him on for an interview soon, here’s another excerpt from the Out Sports feature:

“It also helped that Sims was good. Very good. He was the captain of the team and he was a first-team all-conference player that year. While his team got beaten badly by Delta State in the national championship game, 63-34, Sims said he recorded three sacks in the game.

“By the time it happened, I was the longest-running starter on the team,” Sims said. “I had a lot of success on the football field. And I think that bought me a certain amount of leeway with this group.”

Perhaps 30 years from now they’ll make sports movies about the struggle for Gay Rights in the vein of films made today like “The Express,” “Glory Road,” and “Remember the Titans.” These depict the intersection of sports and the civil rights movement. Sims would make a great subject for a biopic. As riveting a film as “Milk” (the recent Sean Penn movie about Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected public official in America, who was assassinated along with San Francisco mayor George Moscone) was, the Sims’ movie would actually have a happy ending.

I hope the story of Brian Sims, and his teammates who openly accepted him, will inspire more athletes to come out. Beyond that, this example of Sims and the Bloomsburg University football team should send a message about the Gay rights movement to society at large in the same manner that Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers made an impact on the Civil Rights movement over 60 years ago.

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