The Professional Athlete Of A Team Sport

1934 WordsNov 18, 20148 Pages
In 1975, after his retirement from the NFL, David Kopay was the first major professional athlete of a team sport to come out as a homosexual. Very few have followed after Kopay’s example, but based on the percentages of individuals who identify as a member of the LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual) community, including those who have both come out and those who have not, it is assumed that 5% to 10% of NFL players are “closeted” and have not come out as homosexual (Garber, 1999). It is a common theme to see athletes, especially those who are part of a team sport, come out once they enter retirement, as opposed to sometime during their career. In fact, 2014 was the year Michael Sam became the first openly gay player to be drafted into the NFL (Goodine, 2014). So, what is it that causes the vast majority of these athletes to stay in the closet? The research for this topic primarily focused on 18+ adult heterosexuals and 18+ adults identifying with the LGBTQIA community. While homophobia is also an issue in middle school, high school, college, and other forms of amateur sports the focus for this case study is on professional sports. Based on the overarching themes of the research, the short answer to why most athletes choose to stay closeted is because these individuals don’t feel safe otherwise due to teammates’ homophobia. The best evidence came from a study that is currently still in progress. The first national study on
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