The initial understanding of professional sport as a whole is something that can be seen as a very masculine, aggressive and competitive activity. One that the majority of participants, spectators and sport loves consists of men. For years now, the thought of homophobia existing within an athlete of such a macho manly sport has never really been ideal. Male athletes often take this persona of individuals of stealth and strength the idea of a male athlete being gay would definitely take away from that typical male athlete stereotype.
Not to long ago the first active professional athlete came out and notified the world of his sexuality. Jason Collins of the Washington Wizards of the NBA recently decided to come out. This definitely created some hype towards the NBA and professional sport as a whole. Other individuals such as, Esera Tuaolo, Dave Kopay, Ron Simmons, John Amaechi and Billy Bean are all athletes who have took the route in coming out of the closet after they have retired.
SB Nation’s article on gay athletes pinpoints Derek Schell, a Division II basketball player at Hillsdale College. The article describes Derek’s decision to come out as a story of liberation and freedom. In the article Derek states, “For the past 12 years, I have known at least four things to be true: the blue Power Ranger was the best Power Ranger; no one can coach basketball better than Mike Krzyzewski; the Green Bay Packers stand for everything that’s right in this world; and I have always been different. I fully accepted the greatness of the first three, but tirelessly fought the last. For the longest time, I didn’t exactly know what this different was. The turning point in my journey was the day I realized and accepted that this difference meant that I was gay.”
If we take a look at Dave Zirin’s chapter 8 in his book titled “Game Over” on Sexuality and sport, he claims that “to be gay is to be weak. If your gay you are seen as vulnerable. To be gay teammates is also to accept butt slapping, roughhousing, and co-showering could have other meanings.”
When professional athletes decide to take on the decision of their change in sexuality they are taking many risks. To be a gay athlete is not easy. To be a gay athlete it can hurt many things emotionally, physically and ultimately even have the chance of a financial risk. This idea raises a social political problem for professional sport. Many things must be questioned as gay athletes come out. Should gay athletes alter the scenes of professional sport? Does it matter? Are these individuals looked upon the same from their teammates? Should there be changes to the league if this occurs, if so what should be changed?