ESPN'S "OUTSIDE THE LINES" EXAMINES THE GAY ATHLETE
On ESPN's "Outside the Lines: The World of the Gay
Athlete," Greg Garber examined the impact on an athlete's
marketability if they go public with their homosexuality.
Garber said that according to agent Leigh Steinberg it would
be "easier to represent and secure endorsements for a
convicted felon than for a gay player." Steinberg: "I think
[coming out] would have a devastating effect in terms of the
marketability of any athlete to come out and talk about
gayness." An ESPN Chilton Sports poll asked sports fans,
"If your favorite professional player announced that he was
gay, would you be more or less likely to support him?" The
results: 70.2% said no difference/more likely, while 28.2%
felt less likely. Garber: "Some athletes believe that
potential loss, of more than a quarter of a gay player's fan
base, is what keeps [them] in the closet" (ESPN, 12/16).
IMPACT ON WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: ESPN's Bob Ley reported
that, according to former ABL player Kirsten Cummings, 35-
40% of the players in both the ABL and the WNBA "are gay."
Ley: "Insurance coverage for same sex partners is an issue
for the new WNBA players union. And while both leagues have
many lesbian fans, not a single current player in either
league has come out publicly." Steinberg on rumors of his
clients being gay, which include QBs Steve Young and Troy
Aikman: "I've really never had an athlete tell me that he
was gay. And in the case of some of the athletes that are
speculated about, they ... [are] not only not gay, but
heavily heterosexual. So its all the more ironic. But
again, there have been times when I've talked to people in
the press who have asked me direct questions, and I answer
then directly, but not on the record or not for attribution,
because the difficult part of it is that if the word 'gay'
or 'homosexual' is connected in public with an athlete, it
will starve him for some period of time" (ESPN, 12/16).