Much to the enthusiasm of fans, the University of Warwick Rowing Team is rather fond of getting naked. But now the men's team is getting naked for an even better cause: fighting homophobia. As if we needed even more reason to support them.
The Warwick team's naked calendars, which both the men's and women's team use to raise money for the program, have long been popular, but after the men's team realized that a large percentage of their sales came from LGBT customers, they decided to give back, too. And with that in mind, the team launched Sport Allies, an organization that helps battle homophobia in organized sports.
"Sport doesn't have to be a homophobic environment," one rower says in their video promoting the initiative, "and it shouldn't be a homophobic environment." And yet, sadly, it often is. Just one look at the lack of LGBT athletes in major league sports is enough to attest to that. Not to mention incidents like NFL player Chris Kluwe possibly getting fired for supporting marriage equality, or the backlash and general ignorance surrounding Michael Sam being drafted as the NFL's first openly gay player. Plus, there are plenty of studies that suggest homophobia is still alive and thriving in the world of sports all over the globe.
Which is why it's awesome to see sports teams, from the Major Leagues to the college level, taking a stand. And why initiatives like the Sport Allies are important.
According to their Facebook page, Sport Allies aims to "support young people to develop a healthy and respectful view of their own sexuality and that of others," while helping to "promote sport as an inclusive opportunity for the personal and social development of all young people." To acheive that goal, they're currently working with the charity Educational Action Challenging Homophobia (EACH) to develop an outreach program to take to schools and universities to make sports more inclusive at all levels.
Now that is something I think we can all get behind.
The University of Warwick Rowing Team calendars have long been a favorite for people all over the world, and I personally am also a fan of the way their women's team has handled Facebook's attempts to censor their photos. But knowing that the team is taking their success and using it to fuel something positive makes them even more awesome than before.
Way to go, guys!
Images: Courtesy of University of Warwick Rowing Team