When he entered Sunday’s match in the 70th minute for Sparta Prague of the Czech First League, with the club up 2-0 against Jablonec, the crowd “largely cheered him,” according to The Mirror.
One minute later, Jankto played a key role in the scoring of the club’s third goal, which sealed the match.
“For me, the strongest moment in my career,” Jankto said on Twitter. “A minute I will never forget. Three points, great atmosphere. Thank you to all the people at the stadium! We keep pushing.”
While some people continue to make the completely false, unfounded claim that widespread rejection by fans is a big hurdle to athletes coming out, every shred of evidence we have seen in the last decade — at least across the Americas and in much of Europe — has said the complete opposite.
In 2014 I was at Michael Sam’s first preseason game, when the crowd gave him a very warm reception when he entered the game; This was after various fans told me they were proud to have him on the team and after his jersey sales skyrocketed.
The year earlier, fans of the Los Angeles Lakers warmly welcomed Jason Collins — playing for the visiting Brooklyn Nets — in his first game after he came out publicly. Nets fans gave him a standing ovation during his first game in Brooklyn.
Now even in the Czech Republic, we see an embrace of a gay athlete by fans, as well as others across the sport. After that third club goal was scored, Jankto jumped into the arms of goal-scorer Lukáš Haraslín. They were teammates en route to a win, and that’s all that mattered.
Sports have changed, and fans — who have for years expressed acceptance of gay athletes — have changed with them.