Greenbay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers doesn’t think homophobic or racist chants have any place in sports.
The former Super Bowl MVP recently came out against such hate speech while discussing guidelines created by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) regarding chants it finds derogatory. Those chants include such staples as “air ball!”, “score-board!” and “fun-da-men-tals!” Though the guidelines are nothing new, they have gained increased attention. Rodgers, speaking with ESPN, made clear he finds the WIAA’s recommendations too stringent and a bit ridiculous:
“I think we’re, as a society, dying a little bit each day if we’re not only dumbing down our masses but we’re also limiting the things that we can say. ‘Air ball’ and ‘scoreboard,’ from a chant standpoint, in 2001 when I was in the stands watching my high school basketball team, that’s like the ground floor of stuff we would say.
“Think about the fans at other stadiums we play at or at Lambeau Field. I don’t think that [high school competition] warrants censorship. What are we telling our kids, that freedom of speech doesn’t exist? And any type of negative comment, you’re going to get somebody in trouble for? I just don’t agree with that.
However, freedom of speech has its limitations according to Rodgers. Speaking about more hateful chants sometimes hurled during sporting events, Rodgers said, “I don’t agree with any type of racist or homophobic language, any of that type of stuff from the crowd to the people on the field. But ‘scoreboard’ and ‘air ball’ and ‘fundamentals,’ which is a great chant?”
OutSports’ Cyd Ziegler applauded Rodgers’ stand against anti-gay chants at games:
We at Outsports have been critical of Rodgers for not making supportive statements of the LGBT community as he distances himself from rumors about his own sexual orientation that have wondered for a few years if he is gay. This is a great step forward for him, acknowledging the damage that can be done to young gay kids by hearing so many people chant epithets and other anti-gay language.
Back in 2013, Rodgers chose to address rumors that he had been in a romantic relationship with his former assistant and roommate Kevin Lanflisi. Lanflisi and Rodgers met when Lanflisi was an intern for the Packers. Said Rodgers at the time, “I’m not gay. I really, really like women.”