Hats off to a couple guys writing about gays in sports in the last week. Former Deadspin editor and friend of Outsports Will Leitch penned a lengthy piece for New York magazine titled "The Last Closet" and asking the age old question: "When will a gay professional athlete finally come out?" And he heavily quoted our own Jim Buzinski. On the changing tide in sports?
In many ways, sports have changed simply because the world has changed, and the world is where the money is. “I think the business community is saying, ‘This is not good for business to be seen as supporting homophobia in any way, and it’s actually better for business if you come out against it,’ ”says Buzinski. (The NFL still has made no anti-bullying statements and never spoke out on gay issues even during the tenure of commissioner Paul Tagliabue, whose son is openly gay.)
But it’s more than just that. Sports are played—and jerseys are bought—by the young, and it’s a generation that considers gay marriage and other “hot-button” gay issues nonstarters. “Today’s athletes are coming of age in a world of same-sex marriage and vastly more tolerant attitudes toward gays throughout society,” says Neil Best, who has covered sports for Newsday and other publications for some three decades. “Like racism and sexism before them, the walls are starting to crumble.”
Similarly, out of UNC comes a student piece by Perry Tsai about the climate in Chapel Hill for a gay athlete:
What about the environment at UNC? For that answer, I spoke to Associate Athletic Communications Director David Lohse, who came out in 1992.
“The reception was astonishing. I have nothing but really positive things to say about how people treated me,” he said. “I’m proud of the place I work.”
A bisexual UNC athlete told me that he definitely had fears before coming out, but none of them were borne out. He was glad he did because it strengthened his relationship with his teammates and helped him to integrate his identity.
We've said for years the sports media is one of the biggest hurdles to trampling homophobia in sports. It's great to see these two guys step up.