ESPN to Tell Goalie's Story

(This story was published in 2005).

Andrew Goldstein, the All-American Dartmouth College lacrosse goalie who came out to his team after the 2003 season, was the subject of a feature segment on ESPN’s SportsCenter on May 29.

“I never once imagined that I would be an openly gay person, that that would be my life. I always imagined that lies and hiding would be a large part of getting through the day. There are so many sleepless nights. There are moments when you don’t want to be alive,” Goldstein tells reporter Greg Garber in the segment.

Despite the angst revealed in the above paragraph, Garber told Outsports that, “It is, on balance, a tremendously uplifting story.”

Goldstein decided to tell his story to ESPN as a way to help other young athletes who are thinking about coming out, Garber said. The goalie, who is graduating this season, first wrote about his experiences in Discourse, a website devoted to gay athletes coming out (which is, alas, no longer being updated). Outsports reprinted the article last November.

Whatever his trepidations, Goldstein was embraced by his teammates. “The world is ready for us,” he wrote. “They may not be accustomed to us playing on their fields, dressing in their locker rooms, or taking home their MVP trophies, but when we gain their respect and show that we belong, the transition is smooth.”

Goldstein is also notable for the rarity of a goalie scoring a goal in a lacrosse game, something he accomplished against Syracuse on May 11, 2003. “I guess it takes a gay goalie to have enough balls to score in the NCAA tournament," Goldstein wrote. Garber said the goal is a metaphor for the guts and risks that Goldstein took.

“To certain people, it’s a huge contradiction. All-American is what you think of – you know, three kids, picket fence, All-American. And gay does not fit into that. So it’s nice for me to hear gay All-American and to think it’s just the same as All-American," Goldstein says in the ESPN story.

Given ESPN’s incredible reach, the airing of the story is significant in its ability to tell Goldstein’s saga to a wide audience. It is nice to see the feature appear on SportsCenter, along with highlights from baseball, the NBA, the French Open and the Indy 500, and not ghettoized on another show. Let’s hope these kinds of stories become so common one day that ESPN needn’t send out a press release to herald them, nor us to write about them.

SportsCenter re-airs its features throughout the day, so if you miss the first showing, there is a good chance that future SportsCenters will run the piece.

My mini-review:

Reported by Greg Garber, the segment was moving as it told of Goldstein’s journey of acceptance of himself and of his teammates’ acceptance of him. While I could have done with less of the syrupy soft piano music, the piece was effective in conveying what gay athletes face.

The coolest part was footage of Goldstein scoring a goal against Syracuse in the 2003 NCAA playoffs, the first by a goalie in tournament play in 30 years. His teammates remarked that the feat marked Goldstein as a different kind of player, something they soon discovered was more true than they had ever realized. Hats off to ESPN for airing the segment but especially to Goldstein for sharing his story. He proved that a jock can come out in a team sport in a positive fashion.

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