HOUSTON – Colin Clark is hoping that the cliché “turning a negative into a positive” has a place in real life.
The Houston Dynamo midfielder received a three-game suspension, fine and additional sensitivity training on Tuesday for an incident in which he used a homophobic slur against a ball boy in last Friday’s 2-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders. It is a fate the winger accepts, and knows he cannot change the incident that led to it.
What he is looking to change now is how the incident impacts him – as well as the MLS and LGBT communities – going forward.
“It’s such a negative right now and it was a bad choice, and all I can do is go forward and try and turn it into a positive by helping spread awareness,” Clark told MLSsoccer.com by phone Wednesday afternoon.
The 27-year-old added that he's already working on ways to “right this wrong.”
His plan to do that is through building public awareness and community service, something he is no stranger to as a former Colorado Rapids Humanitarian of the Year. Clark is currently involved with Kids Unlimited, a charity that offers assistance to children with cancer and their families.
With this incident fresh in his mind, Clark has found another cause to work on in the future.
“I want to turn this into a positive and go forward and make the best of this situation,” Clark said. “I’m already working to try and set up a way to spread awareness with how unacceptable and inappropriate that term is and spread that it shouldn’t be used.”
While the incident showed a negative side, Clark’s teammates are adamant that his actions after the game are more indicative of Clark’s character than those that happened in the heat of the moment.
“I think Colin’s done a good job by taking responsibility for what he said by immediately apologizing to the kid and the public,” teammate Geoff Cameron told MLSsoccer.com via phone on Wednesday. “MLS is a family environment and you have to be mindful of what you say.
“He knew he said something wrong, but he didn’t wait for someone to tell him to go apologize. No, he went to the kid immediately and apologized to him,” Cameron continued. “I hope people look at that because it was one of those things that he regrets and we support him as a team.”
Clark told MLSsoccer.com that his teammates and the Dynamo organization have been “great and I owe them all a huge thanks.” He knows he will need that support as he works to come back from an uncharacteristic incident.
“The last week or so it’s been tough and it’s been wearing on me because I feel awful for everyone I’ve offended with the term I used,” Clark said. “It’s been weighing on my mind how I’ve offended so many people with one slur. I truly regret saying that and I intend to never use that word again.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached at Darrell.A.Lovell@gmail.com