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Former Villanova basketball star comes out of the closet – and his team accepted him

Another door kicked open, another barrier comes down. The importance of this story is that Will Sheridan was out to his team — and it didn’t matter. (Outsports):

Former Villanova basketball player Will Sheridan, who graduated four years ago, is only the second former Div. 1 male basketball player to publicly come out of the closet as gay. John Amaechi was the first. Former Long Beach State 49er Travon Free previously came out as bisexual. Sheridan will be interviewed on ESPN’s Outside the Lines today at 3pmET.

From the ESPN article

The locker room dynamic, team chemistry, none of it changed. He and [teammate and roommate Mike] Nardi would room together for three of their four seasons and Sheridan remained a popular teammate and vital part of the Wildcats’ success.

The players joked the way they always joked, talked the way they always talked.

And it appears that the finger of homophobia in sports can be pointed in this case to fan behavior than to Sheridan’s teammates:

…Though Sheridan wasn’t out publicly in college, he didn’t entirely hide either. He quietly and privately dated a man from another Philadelphia school. Plus he was artsy — he took part in spoken-word performances at Villanova. He ran funny, on his tiptoes. (“I actually tried to change that for years,” Sheridan said. “Then I said, f— it. Some people talk funny. I run funny.”) So there was plenty of stereotypical ammunition and rumor mill gossip to load up opposing fans.

And when Villanova played St. Joe’s at the Palestra, the Hawk students unloaded.

“I remember at some games, especially St. Joe’s games, they were unreal,” said Sheridan, recalling taunts about specific homosexual acts.

…The fans’ treatment of Sheridan surely speaks to the toxicity that many fear a gay athlete would face should he come out during his playing career.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding