i’m not much of a sports person. i played basketball for a
few years in elementary school, but it never really took, and soon
shifted to competitive dance. however i still enjoy watching
basketball, and having competed on a team, i believe that teams are more
successful and function better when members of that team are encouraged
to be themselves and to bring their individual strengths to the game,
whatever that game may be.
this is related to a new york times article about a great website called outsports.com.
outsports is a unique site that provides a forum for gay sports fans
and for closeted athletes and coaches to come out. i imagine
it would be difficult to find anyone who would disagree that there are
few places in our culture, especially for men, where it is more
difficult to be openly gay than in a team sports setting. the fact
that there are no “out major active male athletes” is quite shocking,
especially when you look at the numbers:
more than 3,500 men are on active rosters in major league
baseball, the n.f.l., the n.b.a. and the n.h.l. even if only 1 percent
of them are gay — and studies suggest the figure is several times
higher — at least several dozen would be on those rosters at any one
what is also perplexing, is that while an out male professional
athlete has the elusiveness of a unicorn, when a professional female
athlete like sheryl swoopes of the w.n.b.a. comes out, there is very
little attention paid. perhaps it’s because of enduring
stereotypes about women athletes being butch or lesbians, but the
variance still amazes me.
buzinski and zeigler, the two men who run the site, don’t believe
that at this point in time it is likely that an already established
professional athlete will come out and announce his sexuality. they said
that “the more likely situation would be for an openly gay high school
or college athlete to climb the ladder to the professional ranks.”
they also believe that a gay professional player would “be widely
accepted, even marketable.” it kills me to think about people marketing
someone’s sexuality in that context, regardless of the fact that
professional sports are only profitable because of marketing. it
just leaves the gross taste of exploitation in my mouth.
i really recommend taking a look at outsports website because there are a lot of heartening, inspiring stories on there. one i was particularly fond of is an article about three gay high school students who have started a blog to create a space for other young lgbtq athletes to find support amongst each other.
i also recommend watching this ellen interview with openly gay british rugby star gareth thomas, i watched it a few months ago and though it was really touching.