I grew up watching Dale Hansen on TV. He was (and to some extent still is) the voice I hear when I think of nightly sports recaps. His was the voice drifting down the hall to my ears as I drifted off to sleep.
I grew up in a Dallas suburb. When I lived there, I felt safe. There was never, ever a time I worried about anything other than what I knew to be true.
When I first came to understand human sexuality, I was taught that homosexuality is not right. This was not something I was taught out of hatred; it was something I was taught out of faithful conviction -- the belief that the rules of God we know are the ones that will bring us comfort and security.
In high school I made new friends. I met people I could have conversations with that began at a base level understanding I had never known before. I knew they were my people; I knew I had found kindred souls. As we navigated our sexuality in the very strange space that is high school, some of my people came out as gay. We would literally sit at our lunch table arguing (sometimes even yelling -- mostly because of me) about whether or not I believed they would go to hell.
I couldn't reconcile that.
There was no way for me to function in the "assuredness" that these friends I loved would go to hell, while believing people could murder and confess to Jesus and end up somewhere better. That's where my seed was planted.
Someone I know said people shouldn't require a reason to fight injustice, and that is 100 percent true. There is a reality, however, that sometimes you don't know what the injustice is until you've come face-to-face with it in real life -- when the seed is planted.
I cannot know why or how Dale Hansen came to the conclusion he did about the NFL and its culture problem (among other broader systematic inequalities). I do know, however, that he is a very, very brave man, who has used his platform to discuss difficult topics in sports before. During the Penn State scandal, he used the opportunity to talk about his own sexual abuse as a child, which much like this most recent video, caught people off guard.
I am sure Mr. Hansen isn't perfect, I'm sure he would say there are many things he is still learning about the world. But I'll tell you what: I would rather listen to a man willing to share his own vulnerabilities in an effort to help others over a perfect man any day.
After all these years, it is really nice having Dale's voice in my ear again.