AL HAMNIK: IHSAA avoids discrimination in all forms

2013-02-19T22:00:00Z 2013-02-20T19:54:04Z AL HAMNIK: IHSAA avoids discrimination in all formsAl Hamnik Times Columnist
February 19, 2013 10:00 pm  • 

Gay athletes in professional and amateur sports is a subject that won't go away, nor should it have to.

But what about the Indiana High School Athletic Association, I wondered. What is its stance on gay coaches and athletes participating in any of the 20 sports offered by its 410 member schools?

You'd hope there are no restrictions.

Monday night, IHSAA Assistant Commissioner Sandra Walter made her first appearance at the 59th annual Calumet Region Sportsmanship Banquet at Villa Cesare in Schererville. I posed the question to her.

Is there a policy, in place, to protect gay sportsmen?

"The answer is we're not going to discriminate against anyone," she said. "I don't care if it's race, creed, color or whatever.

There are coaches whose sexual preference differs from the norm in their school district. Some are able to keep it a secret while others become the subject of whispers and public scrutiny.

I hear gossip at games, see the finger pointing, and it's like living back in the Dark Ages.

In a society where the social media overload has turned many into texting, blogging, Tweeting zombies, the IHSAA has avoided passing judgment on any minority group.

"That subject has never come up. It's a non factor in our office," Walter said.

Isn't it time we follow their lead, snuff out the torches, break up the mob and send everyone home?

"Our office ... we're there to make sure kids can participate, train our coaches well, teach our children well and train our officials well so our kids have an opportunity to excel."

Gay people have prominent roles in TV and the entertainment industry today. They are esteemed educators, business leaders and key contributors in medicine.

Here's a bulletin for those of you living in a cave: Gay people can coach and play sports, too, so why chit chat about such trivial concerns?

Thankfully, there isn't any current or pending IHSAA legislation regarding an individual's sexuality, be it coach or player.

Frankly I'm glad most of us, like the IHSAA, see all coaches and athletes for their talent and love of the game, nothing else.

"It would be the same as if you asked their religion, or their political view, or their ethnicity," Walter said.

"Let's just treat an athlete like an athlete, a student like a student."

In America, land of the free, it's the best approach.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at

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