Many advances were made for gay equality in sports in 2010, but there were also some setbacks. Still, despite the homophobic actions of some there was a silver lining: The public reaction to them was overwhelmingly negative, demonstrating that while homophobia still exists, it is tolerated less and less.
This year five people or groups of people stood out from the crowd as particularly damaging. You can vote on the winner below, and be sure to leave a comment on why you voted the way you did - or someone you think we forgot. And check back tomorrow to vote on our nominees for Sportsperson of the Year!
The Aussie Rules Football player got a firestorm of backlash when he said that gay athletes should stay in the closet. He then threw gasoline on the fire when he said he didn’t want to shower with gay athletes. Though he maintained he’s not homophobic, his team cut him two months after his initial remarks.
Belmont University administration
While claiming a policy of inclusion, the Belmont University administration effectively fired successful head women’s soccer coach Lisa Howe this autumn for wanting to reveal to her team that she is a lesbian and that she and her partner are having a child. Despite backlash from students, faculty and school backers, Howe has not yet been rehired.
Homophobes in European soccer
While the image of Europe is a bastion of sexual freedom, homophobia in its most popular sport was front and center all year. Powerful soccer executives in Croatia said gay people have no place in soccer and should be in the ballet. The English Football Association created ads that were supposed to fight homophobia, but which were so homophobic themselves that John Amaechi became nearly enraged over them. And Sepp Blatter, the head of FIFA, capped the year first announcing that Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal, will host the 2022 World Cup and that gays simply shouldn’t have sex there. And those are just some of the low lights.
The man posing as Mikey
Mikey was a closeted high school hockey player with a blog. Or so we thought. Instead, Mikey was a hoax executed by what we believe to be a 40-something man in the Midwest. The revelation was crushing to many young gay athletes who found a community at the blog, which is now defunct.
Twitter was often the venue of choice for people’s homophobic slurs, and Australian swimmer Stephanie Rice became the poster child. When she Tweeted, “Suck on that, faggots,” her friend Matthew Mitcham came to her defense saying she is not homophobic. But in a world where we face so much discrimination in sports, do we really need our allies using that language? Car manufacturer Jaguar didn’t think so as they quickly dropped the swimmer as a spokesperson.
Honorable Mentions: Dez Bryant (for saying he wishes his mom wasn’t gay), Evan Lysacek (for being a most unlikable Olympic champion) and Tim Tebow (for being Tim Tebow).