SIDELINES: Sports world awaits openly gay male athletes
By CASEY OLSON
Federal Way Mirror Sports editor
July 20, 2012 · Updated 12:21 PM
It’s coming. It kind of has to be, doesn’t it?
By “it,” I mean a player currently playing in the the Big Three professional sports leagues in the United States — the NFL, Major League Baseball and the NBA — coming out as gay.
Would anybody actually blink an eye? In 2012, would it really be that big of a deal if there was an openly gay athlete playing for, say, the Seattle Mariners?
I really can’t answer that question until it actually happens. But I would like to think that the athletes would be judged by what they did on the field of play and not for their extracurricular activities.
Heck, Kobe Bryant is one of the most popular and highest-paid athletes in the world, and he’s an admitted adulterer who was accused of rape just a few short years ago. Also, there isn’t a day that goes by that an athlete isn’t arrested for something or another.
Recently, it was Megan Rapinoe who publicly stated that she was a lesbian. Rapinoe currently plays for the Seattle Sounders Women professional soccer team and is set to compete for the United States National Team in the upcoming London Summer Olympic Games.
In a recent interview with Out Magazine, the midfielder said, for the first time publicly: “For the record: I am gay.”
Rapinoe had not been hiding her sexuality. She simply said no one had ever asked her directly.
The short-cropped, platinum blonde is best known for her assist during the 2011 World Cup in the Germany quarterfinal match against Brazil. During the match, Rapinoe came on as a sub and lofted a cross into the box for Abby Wambach’s game-tying, extra-time header.
“I feel like sports in general are still homophobic, in the sense that not a lot of people are out,” Rapinoe told Out Sports. “I feel everyone is really craving [for] people to come out. People want — they need — to see that there are people like me playing soccer for the good ol’ U.S. of A.”
Rapinoe, 28, acknowledged that in today’s society, it’s way easier for a female to come out of the closet than it would be for a more high-profile male professional athlete. She also said that when an active male athlete does reveal he is gay, it will pave the way for others.
“It’s about standing up and being counted and saying you’re proud of who you are,” Rapinoe told USA Today. “To be honest, I’ve been thinking about it for a while, trying to find a time that works. Now leading up to the Olympics, people want to get personal stories. Our team in general is in a position where people look up to us and kids look up to us. I think it’s pretty cool, the opportunity that I have, especially in sports. There’s really not that many ‘out’ athletes. It’s important to be out and to live my life that way.”
Rapinoe and the American women’s soccer team open the London games on Wednesday with a match against France in Scotland.
Olympic diving kicks off July 29
As far as the Olympics go, I’m also excited to watch the diving competition in London. Not because I’m a big diving fan, but because Federal Way hosted the U.S. Olympic Team Trials — Diving last month.
In total, 11 divers punched their tickets to London inside the King County Aquatic Center. The diving events run July 29-Aug. 11 in London.
The United States Olympic Diving Team consists of Troy Dumais, Cassidy Krug, Katie Bell, Brittany Viola, Chris Colwill, Kristian Ipsen, David Boudia, Kelci Bryant, Abby Johnston, Christina Loukas and Nick McCrory. Boudia might have the best shot at bringing home a medal from London. The 23-year-old won a silver medal at the 2011 World Championships and dove away from the competition in the 10-meter platform during the Olympic Trials. He will also compete with McCrory in the 10-meter synchronized platform.
“I’ve been wanting to go to the Olympics since I was 3,” said Krug, who won the women’s 3-meter springboard event in Federal Way to make her first Olympic team. “I can’t believe I’m really going.”
Contact Federal Way Mirror Sports editor Casey Olson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (253) 925-5565 ext. 5056.