Prejudice in sports has been apparent throughout history. However, thanks to a courageous and talented group of people, prejudice has often been confronted and has fallen in the name of progress. Even in the world of MMA, we have seen Royce Gracie, who was too small, and Ronda Rousey, who was a woman, overcome the very prejudice set against them. But there’s one form of prejudice that has seemingly been overlooked. Whereas the country as a whole has progressed towards increased levels of acceptance of the LGBT community, homosexuality is still largely a taboo subject in the world of sports.

Last month, NBA player Jason Collins made waves when he became the first male athlete actively competing in an American professional team sport to publicly reveal that he is gay. A little over a week ago, MLS player Robbie Rogers was the first openly gay athlete to play in an American professional sport. Just like Jackie Robinson, Tiger Woods and other trailblazers, we can see heroes developing for the gay community in sports.

But just because these athletes who are homosexual are playing sports, does that mean athletes are accepting of them?

The UFC has made a code of conduct that all fighters must adhere to, stating that the prejudices of yesterday and today will not be tolerated. Since it’s conception, there have been two policy breaks, and both have been comments towards the LGBT community.

The first offense was a very poorly worded, uneducated rant by Matt Mitrione concerning transgender fighter Fallon Fox. Idiots are going to exist in the realm of sports. Those rants are going to happen and that is something the UFC can expect. However, the issue lies in the second offense to the code of conduct.

Nate Diaz was suspended for dropping a derogatory, homophobic slur over Twitter. Twitter is a social forum that makes the code of conduct a danger each and every day. No, it won’t be the rants that shed a bad light upon the UFC. It’s the social terms to which a large part of society has has grown accustomed. Diaz probably never thought twice before he rattled off that tweet. He probably says that word on a regular basis, and that’s what the issue is with the UFC adhering to this code of conduct. Even in the recent Eastern Conference Finals game six post-game press conference, Roy Hibbert let slip a slang term that is offensive. NBA star Kobe Bryant has also been in trouble for yelling certain things at a referee.

The issue is that these athletes probably have no problem with homosexuality. It’s that they don’t understand what these words mean. They are uneducated in what is right and what is wrong in the confounds of language.

That is where organizations like Athlete Ally can help. Led by athletes such as Kenneth Faried, Andy Roddick and Brendon Ayanbadejo, the organization looks to support members of the LGBT community, especially in athletics. Considering the UFC’s recent experiences with fighters violating the code of conduct in regards to prejudices, perhaps this is an organization that the UFC should partner with in the future. Ex-UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans has already pledged as an ally and ambassador for the group. Why shouldn’t the UFC encourage others to follow suit?

This could be a catalyst to true change. If the UFC really wants its fighters to conduct themselves properly, education is the key. Within education, the UFC will see acceptance as opposed to a forced tolerance.

Photo: Nate Diaz (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Ross White hails from Columbus, Ohio. Like most others he has been a fight fan since Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar fought at the pinnacle of the UFC's history. Ross is a sports fan through and through and loves watching any sport. He is a die hard Seattle Seahawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Ohio State Buckeyes fan. He also enjoys playing video games, reading comics, and writing a rap song here and there. His favorite fight of all time is Takanori Gomi and Nick Diaz at Pride 33.