Speaking out on coming out

Outside the Lines

  Also See
World of the Gay Athlete: The last closet

World of the Gay Athlete: NFL style

World of the Gay Athlete: Gay hockey?

History of gay athletes

A gay comedian's take on sports

Chat wrap: Openly gay AD Mike Muska

Chat wrap: Former NFL running back Dave Kopay

Reaction to series, show


There aren't many openly gay athletes.

But there's no shortage of opinions on gay athletes.

Outside the Lines spoke to players, officials and agents about topics relating to gays and homophobia in sports. Their viewpoints were widely divergent, ranging from tolerant to reactionary. For many, it is a deeply personal issue that transcends whatever intellectual understanding they may have of gays and their place in the sports world.

Listen, in their own words, to their take on some of the more debated themes. Then, share your thoughts with ESPN.com on these same themes by sending a message to the ESPN e-mail address below.

Mike Muska
Oberlin College's Mike Muska, the only openly gay college AD, knows there are other gays in sports.
 736k avi
  Are there many gay athletes?
At best, it's a guessing game. Former baseball umpire Dave Pallone, who has claimed he could field an all-star team, says there are ways to tell if an athlete is gay. Others doubt there are as many as in regular society, in which an estimated 5-10 percent are gay. If there are gay athletes, San Francisco Giants manager Dusty Baker and agent Leigh Steinberg say they aren't aware of them.

Dave Pallone: RealAudio   237k wav
Leigh Steinberg: RealAudio   164k wav
Dusty Baker: RealAudio   209k wav

Terance Mathis
Terance Mathis explains why players haven't disclosed their homosexuality.
 960k avi
  Why haven't they come out?
In Australia, top rugby player Ian Roberts came out of the closet and found that his sexuality did not cause him problems. In fact, he received an increased number of commercial endorsements. Would the same happen in the U.S.? Many say that homophobic attitudes are still prevalent enough to discourage team-sport athletes from stepping out.

Bruce Armstrong, Patriots: RealAudio   212k wav
Dave Pallone: RealAudio   199k wav
Leigh Steinberg: RealAudio   228k wav

Leigh Steinberg
Leigh Steinberg says it would take a special person.
 1908k avi
  Should they come out anyway?
An openly gay athlete, particularly in a team sport, would be akin to a Jackie Robinson figure. He or she would be a role model for other gay athletes, and an example from which society could learn. But the taunts and abuse they might endure would be hard to take, and their personal life would have to be as impeccable as Robinson's was. The athlete also would likely require the support of his or her teammates and club management.

Mike Muska: RealAudio   135k wav
Dave Pallone: RealAudio   185k wav

Bruce Armstrong
Bruce Armstrong thinks a gay teammate would be a distraction.
 810k avi
  What about the locker rooms?
One of the main reasons straight players resist gays in sports is because they are uncomfortable sharing a locker room with them. Nudity sets off insecurities in many players, who feel gays could be looking at them in a sexual manner. That's not the case with every heterosexual player, however, including Reggie White, the Green Bay Packers star and minister who criticized homosexuals earlier this year.

Cris Carter, Vikings: RealAudio   283k wav
Reggie White: RealAudio   231k wav
Dana Stubblefield, Redskins: RealAudio   201k wav
Terance Mathis, Falcons: RealAudio   191k wav

Send your comments on the gays and homophobia series to espnet2@espn.com. Selected comments will be published at the conclusion of the series.

Copyright 1995-98 ESPN/Starwave Partners d/b/a ESPN Internet Ventures. All rights reserved. Do not duplicate or redistribute in any form. ESPN.com Privacy Policy (Updated 01/08/98). Use of this site signifies your agreement to the Terms of Service (Updated 01/12/98).