WASHINGTON, April 2, 2013 — In historic professional sports news this week, a well-known NBA veteran came out as gay. In an article in this week’s Sports Illustrated, Jason Collins, a 12-year basketball veteran and former Stanford player, explained in very simple terms who he was. “ I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.”
For the past few months, the professional sports world has been buzzing with rumors that an NFL player was close to coming out. Whether or not those rumors are true, Jason Collins apparently decided now was the time to begin living a life that authenticates both his career in the NBA and his private life.
Another part of the story is that even his twin brother, Jarron Collins, was surprised, which shows just how hidden Jason Collins kept his sexuality.
What is your reaction to Jason Collins’ announcement?
53% — Positive step for pro sports
27% Sexual orientation shouldn’t be major news
12% I don’t agree with his lifestyle
8% I’m indifferent about it
How would you react if a player on your favorite team came out?
75% Announcement would have no impact
18% I’d be more inclined to root for the team
7% I’d less inclined to root for the team
Will more pro athletes come out in 2013?
Which pro team sport will be the next to have an openly gay player?
Would most pro athletes welcome a gay teammate?
Would most college athletes welcome a gay teammate?
Would your opinion of an athlete change if he or she came out?
Should leagues suspend pro athletes who utter homophobic slurs?
Should universities suspend college athletes who utter homophobic slurs?
Which pro sports entity would be the least tolerant of gay athletes?
Which pro sports entity would be the most tolerant of gay athletes?
If a top-rated pro prospect came out before the draft, how much would the revelation hurt him?
54% A little
24% Not at all
22% A lot
This poll is not scientific and reflects the opinions of only those Internet users who have chosen to participate. The results cannot be assumed to represent the opinions of Internet users in general nor the public as a whole.
Read More: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/POLLSERVER/results/64593.html#ixzz2S9EPO5vH
To best understand the readers’ reactions to homosexuality in pro sports (and not how well they might predict how professional leagues or universities might react), Questions 1-2, 7, and 8-9 are quite telling.
According to reactions to Question 1, 80% of respondents found that either it was a positive step for pro sports or it really should not matter so much. However, 12% expressed their disapproval of the “gay lifestyle” and 8% remained indifferent. Given that an “indifferent” reaction could be encompassed in the answer “Sexual orientation should not be major news,” it’s possible that the respondents who remained indifferent are unable to admit to homophobia…or maybe to tolerance.
Question 2 asked how fans would react to a player on their favorite team coming out. Ninety-three percent responded that they would either not change their fan level or they would root more for their team. A small group of 7% said they would be less inclined to root for their team. Interestingly, since 12-20% of the answers to Question 1 indicate disapproving or non-committal attitudes, 5-13% of those fans would still root for their team – their fan loyalty out-weighed their disapproval.
Question 7 asks if the respondents’ opinion of a player (not the team) would change if the player came out. Seventy-eight percent indicated that their opinion wouldn’t change. However, it’s unclear whether the remaining 22% of respondents would change their opinions favorably or unfavorably.
Questions 8 and 9 ask whether the respondents believe leagues and universities should sanction players who utter homophobic slurs. A majority in both questions (61% and 64%, respectively) indicate that sanctions should be meted out if fellow players express intolerance.
One important concept within sportsmanship is respect for teammates. So it appears that the Sports Illustrated poll shows a trend in the right direction; fans/respondents believe that some consequence should come of continued homophobia within a team. Overwhelmingly, though, they indicated that Jason Collins’ announcement was positive and, perhaps, not that big of a deal.
After all, it is 2013. It is a game. And it is time.
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