March 22, 2007, - 9:34 am
By Debbie Schlussel
I admire Superbowl champion coach Tony Dungy, head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. A G-d-fearing man with Main Street America values, he downplayed the race issue in this year’s Superbowl and never swayed from his Christian values in his quest to win the Big Game. That’s something I believe helped get him there.
Now, Dungy has done something with a lot more guts. He’s come out in favor of a ban on gay marriage. Dungy knows that this controversial stand will lose him a lot of money.
Gay rights groups will pounce on current and potential sponsors and endorsement deals, and Dungy will ultimately lose significant funds for taking this stand. For that reason, most athletes would run like Roger Bannister away from taking such a strong political stand. And that’s why it’s so gutsy that Dungy too a different path.
The National Football League is running fast and furious away from Dungy and his comments. And I can’t blame them. If I were running a pro sports league, I’d stay far away from politics, especially political issues. Nobody wants a mix of Rosie O’Donnell and Sean Penn in their Sunday afternoon football.
That’s why I have my reservations on Dungy’s pronouncement. I oppose gay marriage. Marriage is between one adult man and one adult woman only. But I wouldn’t like it if Dungy took the opposite stand and came out in favor of gay marriage. And I do believe that athletes and sports figures should stay out of politics, just as I feel showbiz types should and have repeatedly said so.
Still, I give kudos to Dungy for taking a stand that he knows will lose him a lot, but will allow him to publicly stand on principle.
More from USA Today:
Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy said he knows some people would rather he steered clear of Indiana’s gay marriage debate, but he clearly staked out his position nonetheless.
The Super Bowl-winning coach “embraced” the stance of an Indiana organization supporting an amendment to the state constitution that would ban gay marriages, and he added Tuesday night at a gathering of the Indiana Family Institute that he’s “on the Lord’s side.”
“We’re not trying to downgrade anyone else,” said Dungy, coach of the Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts. “But we’re trying to promote the family – family values the Lord’s way,” Dungy said. “IFI is saying what the Lord says. You can take that and make your decision on which way you want to be.”
Asked about Dungy’s comments, the NFL provided the following response through spokesman Greg Aiello:
“Coach Dungy is speaking for himself and expressing his views, which he is fully entitled to do. No doubt there are people in our league that have a different view. We respect the right of employees to have and express their views and don’t regulate the political or religious views of team or league employees.”
Contrast the diplomatic way the NFL distanced itself from Dungy with the obnoxious cut-and-run way the League and ESPN treated Rush Limbaugh on a far less controversial issue.
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