One Sports Bet I’d Actually Make
Unlike Pete Rose, I don’t bet on baseball. I don’t bet on any sport. I’m not the betting type. Case and point: I’m in fantasy football league with a bunch of friends and the only thing we play for is “bragging rights.” There is one thing in sports that I would bet on, though—and that’s the belief that it was a lot harder to come out in professional sports 30 years ago than it is now. Some people might disagree with me, and tell me that professional athletes today face even more pressure and public scrutiny due to heavy endorsement deals and the fast-paced world of the Internet, which creates a tsunami of backlash whenever an athlete steps out of bounds (excuse the pun, but it works).
I agree that professional athletes today are under a lot more public scrutiny, but they also have the advantage of social evolution. (It’s a real term, I swear.) Just ask David Kopay. He was the first professional football player to come out of the closet. Kopay played 10 seasons as an NFL running back and caused a national uproar when he came out in 1975. Coming out as a professional athlete is hard enough, but coming out as a professional football player takes guts. It’s a brutal sport, on and off the field. His 1977 autobiography, "The David Kopay Story," is a New York Times’ bestseller and details his battle with homophobia throughout his playing days in the NFL.
Said Kopay in a 2009 speech, “Gay men had always been considered weak and silly and equated with women as being something less. Sure, hatred still exists, but there is a huge difference now. Hatred, dominance and brutality are no longer considered fashionable, celebrated or tolerated. Hopefully more people will continue to embrace change and diversity.”
The bottom line is that our society is more accepting of LGBT athletes than it was 30 years ago. And, taking the above quote into consideration, I know Kopay would probably agree with me.
In fact, I’d even bet on it.
Blogger Bio: Lyndsey D'Arcangelo is a versatile writer, having experience as a journalist, copywriter, author, freelancer and blogger. She is the author of the Golden Crown Literary Society Award-winning book, The Trouble with Emily Dickinson (also a Lambda Literary Award finalist). Her recent novel, The Crabapple Tree, was published in May 2009. In addition to writing short stories and novels, Lyndsey also contributes regularly to a variety of national and local publications. (lyndseydarcangelo.com)