HBO's Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel turns its attention Tuesday night (10pmET/PT) to openly gay Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas. Thomas talks about the lengths he went to to look straight, from hitting on the prettiest girls in bars to starting fights; He even says how excited he was to get arrested for assault because it made him look tougher. He also says being closeted and sexually frustrated made him a more fierce player and that, in turn, helped his career.
I was a demon on the field. People to me were just objects that I could take my frustration out on. If somebody gave me the ball I’d say, run over this guy. I had so much built up anger, so much built up frustration inside of me that, you know, I would have killed a guy if I could have. And that’s why my career went [up] so quick.
Thomas reiterates his hope that an American athlete will come out soon. He thinks it will be a positive experience for the player. When Bernie Goldberg asks him if he thinks closeted American athletes would be better off coming out, he's unequivocal in his response:
I do. I personally do. ... I think an American athlete doing it would be a legacy way beyond his days. ... Whatever medals or trophies that dude could have hanging on his wall, he would get a feeling so much more beyond any of that.
By the way, if you don't follow Gareth Thomas on Twitter, you should. He's got a great attitude and is fun to read.