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Academic study says some college athletes call themselves ‘allies’

Athletes call themselves ‘allies’ because of their beliefs and actions.

Yale v Harvard Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

A new study out of the Univ. of Arizona says that some athletes call themselves allies to LGBT people. The study aimed to understand how these athletes who call themselves “allies” engage in the work of being an “ally.” The study doesn’t seem to explore the impact of allies on LGBT athletes.

The study’s premise is that “unwelcoming environments are the status quo” for LGBT athletes. While we know language issues persist — particularly overt heterosexism — the idea of dominant anti-LGBT sentiment in sports today flies in the face of the overwhelming percentage of LGBT athletes who have come out and been totally accepted by their teammates and coaches.

"Masculinity is heightened in sports, and it may be more important to men to engage in behaviors that show off their masculinity," Univ. of Arizona Russell Toomey said. "There may be a fear that if a male athlete stands up or speaks out against LGBT-related bias, they might be perceived as being gay, and they don't want their teammates to perceive them that way."

I would have been interested to see whether LGBT teammates actually call their teammates “allies,” and whether their actions have an impact. But I guess that would be a whole different study all together.

Regardless, more and more non-LGBT athletes are simply doing the right thing. This study seems to reinforce that notion.

You can read the full study here.