A research project conducted from sociologists at the universities of Kent and Winchester has revealed that young footballers may be more supportive of gay teammates.
The revelation may be a turn for the better and one that has improved hugely on a similar survey conducted back in 2002 when players said they may “accept a player being gay as long as they were good.” The research included interviews with Premier League academy footballers aged 16-18 where all the participants openly accept one of their colleagues coming out.
Dr Steven Roberts led the project and stated his pleasure in the marked shift in perception from the last study. “They showed an inclusive attitude toward the hypothetical situation of having a gay teammate, best friend of roommate reveal their sexuality. All were unbothered by the issue of gays in sport.”
The survey comes in light of the political views of Russian pole-vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva who stirred opinion with a recent statement about gays in sport.
The survey led by Dr Roberts aims to show proof these views are few and far between in today’s modern age. Many sportsmen and women find it challenging to reveal their sexuality whilst playing however, footballer Robbie Rogers made headlines when he did just that.
Rogers publicly revealed his sexuality shortly after leaving Leeds United a couple years ago in February following little over a year in English football. He initially retired from the game, however after just a few months and with positive feedback from fellow professionals he continues to play for LA Galaxy in the MLS. He was keen to put to bed questions of his sexuality as now he is playing he wants to play football and pleased with the backing he has had from teammates and fellow professionals.
Surveys like the one conducted by Dr Roberts may do wonders for any players that are looking to come out to their teammates. More examples like this may be needed to be done in order for any sporting professional to embrace their sexuality.
English sports stars such as Hope Powell, Nicola Adams and Clare Balding have all come out as gay and are all widely accepted by their peers and fans. Slowly however, surely all sports stars may feel comfortable knowing they may be accepted for who they are and the survey may be a further step forward to that goal.
How might this encourage sporting individuals to accept their teammates for who they are?