Mind Candy

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Gay athletes: The impact of coming out

Posted by mandyf on November 13, 2008

One of the topics rarely spoken of in sports is homosexuality. Sure people seem to bring it up in regards to things like ice skating or womens golf but when it comes to the biggies like baseball, football, or almost anything mainstream it is almost as if everyone wants to believe all athletes are straight. I’ve always thought of that as living in never never land, we all know there are plenty of gays in major sports, we just don’t tend to know until after they retire.

Let’s start with taking a look at the major sports, countless athletes come out once they leave the league, the NFL more so than any sport. That’s right, statistically speaking the NFL has more athletes come out that are gay than any sport aside from ice skating. It’s not just Esera Tualo, but Ed Gallagher, Corey Johnson, Dwight Slater, Aylssa Wykes, Dave Kopay and Jerry Smith to name a few, it’s believed to be that about 5% or more of the current players are gay. Kopay formerly a running back and Smith an All-Star tight end with the Redskins were even lovers. Still even when this is common knowledge players stay in the closet.

In baseball and the NBA the numbers are likely around the same percentage as the NFL. Some do come out, thiose that did however like the NFL have been retired, in their final year and unnoticed (Billy Beane) or saw their careers end rather quickly. It’s not just speculation either. Lets take a look at what has actually happened to an athlete that did come out, but only after his career began circling the drain amid a slew of rumors concerning his sexuality.

Glenn Burke (The believed inventor of the high five in sports) was believed to have been traded by the Dodgers for being gay even though he was young and considered a better than average talent on a World Series team. He was even tabbed as being the next Willie Mays with speed, power, five .300 plus seasons in the minors, and great defensive skills. His teammates felt he was not just on the way to being a star but a superstar. He was however very close to Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda’s gay son, something it is believed outed him and began the spiral as Lasorda to this day refuses to acknowledge his son is gay even though “Spunky” as he is called is out.

The A’s gambled on him but eventually released him. The rumors of his sexuality made life for him seem unbearable. He was forced into a position to play a game he loved, or love who he loved and ultimately it was too much. His career ended at 26 and in

1995 he died alone in San Francisco of AIDS. How eager would you be to come out?

There’s always speculation that athletes don’t come out because they fear losing endorsements, those post playing day jobs as coaches, scouts, commentators and the like, or the fear nobody will want them and their career will end prematurely. They would become the center of a press circus and be a distraction to the team perhaps and that would be a fair reason on some level to stay closeted in some minds. Those are all valid concerns, very few gay athletes, especially in mens sports have come out and been accepted. It is the exception rather than the rule, and as yet, at least in America, no real superstar has done so. Are we to believe there has never been a star gay athlete, or that they just don’t want to rock the boat? Maybe it’s because 76% of fans polled said….READ THE REST HERE: http://www.helium.com/items/1132769-gay-athletes-the-impact-of-coming-out

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