clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Why we’re done waiting for openly gay NFL star

New, 2 comments

As young LGBT athletes continue to lead on representation, the idea of an openly gay NFL star is becoming less important.

2020 NFL Draft - Round 1
Roger Goodell hosted the NFL Draft from his home in New York this year.
Photo by NFL via Getty Images

Three years ago, offensive lineman Scott Frantz became only the third FBS player to ever reveal publicly that he’s gay. After starting four years at Kansas State, Frantz declared for the NFL Draft, but was not selected over the weekend. He now awaits free agency, with his professional future uncertain after a lackluster Pro Day.

On this week’s edition of “The Sports Kiki,” I chat with Outsports co-founder Cyd Zeigler about Frantz’s NFL trajectory, and more specifically, the importance of having an openly gay active player in the major male professional sports leagues. Six years ago, when Michael Sam came out prior to the NFL Draft and dominated headlines, it seemed inevitable there would be several openly gay NFL players.

But there are none. Zeigler says he and Outsports co-founder Jim Buzinski are tired of waiting.

“I’ve stopped waiting. For many years, Jim and I were waiting, we were pushing,” he said.
“And I just realized several years ago this is just a waste of time and energy. It is not up to me. It’s up to somebody else. It’s frustrating, because people five years ago were saying, ‘Oh, definitely by 2020 you’ll have multiple in the major sports who are out.’ And we have zero. I just realized it was a waste of my time, energy and emotion, and Outsports started focusing on those young athletes who have so many great stories to tell. I’m not waiting anymore, and I feel like most people aren’t waiting anymore. When it happens, it will be a good thing to celebrate.”

As I wrote earlier this month, young athletes continue to lead the way on LGBT representation in sports. While it would be significant for there to be a star openly gay NFL player, it is not a necessity in terms of representation. Openly LGBT stars thrive all over the sports world, including the Olympics, where there were a record-setting 18 out athletes in 2018.

The numbers are also sizable in women’s sports, where stars such as Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird are some of the most visible figures in their respective sports.

“If you look outside the major men’s pro sports in the United States, in 2018 you had two out Olympians in Gus Kenworthy and Adam Rippon,” Zeigler said. “Adam Rippon was literally the most talked about athlete from the Olympics, and Gus Kenworthy was literally the most endorsed athlete in the Olympics. They didn’t have this massive wave of success, but they are the two male athletes who people remember from those games. I think there’s been so much. A Michael Sam making a huge announcement and dominating the airwaves, I just don’t think it would happen today if an NFL player made a big announcement. I think it would be a deal, I just don’t think it would be a deal for six months the way it was with Michael.”

Click here to check out this week’s edition of “The Sports Kiki Podcast”. You can also subscribe to the show on Apple’s Podcast page as well as on Google Podcasts, and wherever you’ll find Outsports podcasts.