Last day to vote!
Every year we ask our readers to crown the Outsports 'Person of the Year.' Last year's honorees were Brian & Patrick Burke, who garnered over 60% of the vote! This year we have many incredibly deserving people, and we have narrowed it down to these final six.
We'll announce the winner on Jan. 5, so get your vote in now. And thanks to everyone who offered their nominees!
Anton Hysen. While we've had a number of athletes come out of the closet after their retirement, Hysen was one of only two professional team-sport athletes we know of anywhere in the world to come out publicly in 2011. Having just turned 21, he did it without the shelter of a long, storied career. Instead, just embarking on his professional tour of duty in Sweden he took the leap and has benefited from it personally and professionally.
Helen Carroll & Pat Griffin. While other gay-sports activists get the headlines and Facebook fan pages, these two women continue to be the gold standard in the movement. This year was just another year of extraordinary accomplishments. Griffin launched a new initiative with GLSEN, Changing the Game, that is helping end homophobia in K-12 sports. The women together published a groundbreaking report that lead to an official NCAA policy on trans athletes. When we published our list of the 100 most important moments in gay-sports history, these two were a part of making at least nine of them happen. And while others simply preach to the choir, these two women consistently reach out to those who are not on the side of fairness and equality. They are pioneers in the deepest sense, and 2011 was another incredible year for their work.
High school bloggers. A couple years ago, LGBT high school athletes had a terrible time finding other people like them, even in the vast wilderness that is the Internet. This year put some of those voices on a hill for others to find as various gay high school athletes started blogs. Collectively they are a resource like no other, telling the stories of gay youth in sports in a way adults simply cannot. While multimillionaires in the prime of their careers are still too afraid and selfish to come out, these kids have found the strength to do so.
'It Gets Better' sports teams. When the 'It Gets Better' campaign started in late 2010, no one could have envisioned the participation from the sports world that ensued. A half dozen Major League Baseball teams created videos to convince LGBT youth to not kill themselves. College sports teams, athletic departments, and Major League Soccer teams quickly got in on the act. Unfortunately, every NHL, NBA and NFL team has either refused to make a video or has ignored requests, which makes the MLB teams' videos that much more special.
Rick Welts & the Golden State Warriors. Former Phoenix Suns President Rick Welts had been struggling with the decision to come out publicly for years. When he finally did so in May, he brought along the support of the likes of David Stern, Steve Nash and Bill Russell. Welts left the Suns over the summer to move closer to his partner...which opened the door for him to be hired by the Golden State Warriors. A couple years ago, Welts feared coming out would hurt his career; Now he is the first person to be hired as president of a pro-sports team while being openly gay.
Sean Avery. The year saw various professional athletes show their support for gay people and gay equality. But only one that we know of, then-New York Ranger Sean Avery, lobbied legislators at a state capital to vote for marriage equality. It's one thing to talk to a reporter and record a video message, but Avery went above and beyond the call of duty (have you lobbied at your state capital?).
Honorable mention: Straight former athletes Hudson Taylor & Ben Cohen, for creating anti-homophobia organizations; Australian rugger David Pocock for saying he would not marry a woman until gay people had equal marriage rights in his country; cricketer Steven Davies, who also came out this year.