Never before have we lived in a time in which sport and gay identity are more visible, discussed, debated—and even celebrated. However, in an era in which the sports closet is heralded as the last remaining stronghold of heterosexuality, the terrain for the gay athlete remains contradictory at best. Gay athletes in American team sports are thus living a paradox: told that sport represents the "final closet" in American culture while at the same time feeling ostracized, labeled a "distraction" for teams, dubbed locker room "problems," and experiencing careers which are halted or cut short altogether.
Media and the Coming Out of Gay Male Athletes in American Team Sports is the first of its kind, building upon the narratives of athletes and how their coming out experiences are shaped, transmitted and received through pervasive, powerful, albeit imperfect commercial media. Featuring in-depth interviews with out-athletes such as Jason Collins, Dave Kopay, Billy Bean and John Amaechi; media gatekeepers from outlets like ESPN and USA Today; and league representatives from Major League Baseball and the National Football League, this book explores one of the starkest juxtapositions in athletics: there are no active out players in the NFL, NBA, MLB, or NHL, yet the number of athletes coming out at virtually every other level of sport is unprecedented. Interviews are fused with qualitative media analysis of coming out stories and informed by decades of literature on the unique intersection of sport, media, and sexual identity.
Appendix: List of Interview Respondents
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LIST OF INTERVIEW RESPONDENTS
John Amaechi, former NBA player (1995–2003) who came out after retirement in 2007
Billy Bean, former MLB player (1987–1995) who came out after retirement in 1999, now serves as MLB’s first Ambassador for Inclusion
Howard Bragman, Fifteen Minutes PR, Michael Sam’s former PR agent
Christine Brennan, sports columnist for media outlets including USA Today, Good Morning America, and CNN
Jim Buzinski, co-founder of Outsports
Jason Collins, retired NBA player (2001–2014), first to come out while in active play
Bob Costas, sportscaster for NBC Sports television
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