FAIR PLAY FOR ALL

January 16, 2019 at 5:00 am

Fair play for all!  “Out Sports” writer Cyd Zeigler breaks down life on and off the field for LGBT athletes.

Aired on August 8, 2017 & January 15, 2019.

Transcript Print

>> WHILE MEMBERS OF THE LBGTQ
ARE INCREASINGLY FINDING MAIN
STREAM ACCEPTANCE IN SOCIETY AND
THE SPORTS WORLD, MEN'S SPORTS
TENDS TO HAVE FEW GAY ATHLETES.
A NUMBER OF VICTORIES HAVE BEEN
ACHIEVED, SUCH AS THE COMING OUT
BY NBA CENTER JASON COLLINS AND
SOCCER STAR ROBBIE ROGERS.
BUT HOW FAR HAS THE SPORTS WORLD
COME AS FAR AS EQUALITY?
IN HIS NEW BOOK, SID ZIGLER
LOOKS AT KEY MOMENTS THAT HAVE
TRANSFORMED SPORTS FOR GAY
ATHLETES TODAY.
AND HE JOINS ME TODAY TO TALK
ABOUT IT.
SID, WELCOME.
>> THANK YOU.
>> NOW, TO YOUR BOOK, WHAT MADE
YOU -- WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO
WRITE IT?
WHAT MISSION DO YOU HOPE TO
ACCOMPLISH WITH IT?
>> I THINK THERE'S STILL A MAJOR
MISCONCEPTION IN AMERICA THAT
SPORTS ARE A PLACE WHERE LBGTQ
ARE NOT WELCOME.
MY MAIN PURPOSE WAS TO SHOW THAT
LBGTQ ATHLETES AND COACHES ARE
REALLY FINDING A PLACE IN
SPORTS, THEY'RE FINDING
ACCEPTANCE, PARTICULARLY AMONG
OTHER ATHLETES AND COACHES.
BUT ALSO TO SHOW WHERE IN
PROFESSIONAL SPORTS, THE GUYS IN
SUITS, LEAGUE COMMISSIONERS, CAN
DO A LOT OF GOOD AND HOW THEY
CAN TAKE PROACTIVE STEPS TO
FINALLY BLOW UP THE CLOSET DOOR
OF SPORTS.
>> THE FAMOUS GENERAL MANAGER OF
THE PRBROOKLYN DODGERS WHO HIRE
JACKIE ROBINSON BREAKING THE
COLOR LINE.
WHY ISN'T THERE SOMETHING TO
BREAK THE LBGTQ LINE?
>> HE JUST DECIDED HE WAS GOING
TO INTEGRATE BASEBALL IN 1947
AND HE DID JUST THAT.
I THINK THAT THE REASON YOU
HAVEN'T SEEN A TEAM OWNER OR
GENERAL MANAGER IN ONE OF THE
BIG PRO SPORTS DO THAT, THAT IS
GO FIND AN LBGTQ ATHLETE AND
BRING THEM TO THEIR TEAM, IS
THEY DON'T KNOW HOW.
I THINK THAT WE'RE TOLD THAT
YOUR SEXUAL ORIENTATION IS SUCH
AN IMPORTANT SECRET, THEY FEAR
GOING AND TRYING TO FIND SOMEONE
WHO HASN'T REVEALED THAT SECRET.
SO I THINK THAT'S THE BIGGEST
REASON, THEY DON'T KNOW HOW TO
DO IT.
>> HOW DO THEY DO IT?
>> THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE IN
AND AROUND PROFESSIONAL SPORTS,
JASON COLLINS, BILLY BEANE IN
BASEBALL, WHO WORKED WITH A LOT
OF THESE GUYS, AND WHO KNOW WHO
THEY ARE.
AND WORKING THROUGH THEM TO
FIGURE OUT A WAY THAT THE LEAGUE
AND THE TEAMS CAN SUPPORT THESE
PEOPLE COMING OUT, NOT OF THING
THEM, BUT SUPPORT THEM IN THEIR
COMING OUT PROCESS PERSONALLY
AND PUBLICLY.
I THINK THAT'S THE MOST
IMPORTANT STEP THAT THEY CAN
TAKE.
>> THAT'S WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN
IN THE FRONT OFFICE.
HOW ARE THINGS IN THE LOCKER
ROOM, SPORTS, MEN'S SPORTS HAS
NOTORIOUSLY BEEN A MACHO WORLD.
HOW ARE TEAMMATES RESPONDING TO
GAY TEAMMATES, DO YOU KNOW?
>> WELL, IN THE 16 YEARS THAT
JIM AND I HAVE BEEN RUNNING OUR
WEBSITE, WE HAVE HEARD ONLY ONE
NEGATIVE COMING OUT STORY OF AN
ATHLETE.
THAT WAS BECAUSE HIS COACH OUTED
HIM TO HIS FAMILY.
EVERY OTHER STORY WE'VE HEARD
HAS BEEN NOTHING BUT EMBRACED BY
TEAMMATES AND COACHES.
PEOPLE WANT TO WIN IN SPORTING.
WHEN YOU HAVE BEEN IN SOMEONE IN
THE LOCKER ROOM FOR MONTHS OR
YEARS, YOU GET TO KNOW THEM AS A
PERSON, NOT JUST THEIR SEXUAL
ORIENTATION.
THAT'S THE BIGGEST PIECE.
BECAUSE MOST PEOPLE GET TO KNOW
SOMEONE BEFORE THEY KNOW WHO
THEY'RE SLEEPING WITH, IT KIND
OF -- IT SMOOTHS OUT THE COMING
OUT PROCESS IN THE LOCKER ROOM,
BECAUSE THEY DON'T VIEW THEM AS
SOMETHING DIFFERENT.
THEY VIEW THEM AS A TEAMMATE
FIRST.
>> WHAT ABOUT THE FANS, ANY
OBSTACLES WITH THE FANS?
>> YOU KNOW, FOR THE LAST 15
YEARS, EVERY SINGLE POLE OF A
FAN THAT'S BEEN TAKEN HAS SHOWN
A VAST MAJORITY, 75% PLUS OF
FANS, AND THIS IS EVEN DATING
BACK TO 15 YEARS AGO, SAY THEY
WOULD SUPPORT AN OPENLY GAY
PLAYER ON THEIR FAVORITE TEAM.
BUT 75% OF THEM ALSO SAY THAT
THE GUY SITTING THEM IN THE
STANDS WOULD.
SUPPORT AN OPENLY GAY ATHLETE ON
THEIR TEAM.
THE MAJORITY OF FANS ARE OKAY
WITH IT, BUT WE ALSO THINK THAT
EVERYONE ELSE ISN'T OKAY WITH
IT.
THAT'S THE DYNAMIC THAT ATHLETES
DEAL WITH, THAT FANS ARE A
PROBLEM, AND THEY'RE NOT.
>> YOU TALK ABOUTDYNAMICS.
YOU WRITE THERE'S A DIFFERENT
DYNAMIC WITH WOMEN, THAT THE
STEREO TYPICAL ASSUMPTION BY
MANY FANS THAT WOMEN SAY IN
PROFESSIONAL COLLEGE BASKETBALL
ARE LESBIANS.
HOW DOES THIS PLAY INTO THE
LBGTQ EQUALITY IN SPORTS?
>> ONE OF THE THINGS YOU HAVE TO
UNDERSTAND IS IT IS NOT EASY
BEING AN -- COMING OUT IN
WOMEN'S SPORTS.
EXPRESSING WHO YOU ARE IS A REAL
JOURNEY THAT EVERYONE, WHETHER
YOU'RE A MAN OR WOMAN, GOES
THROUGH.
BUT YOU KNOW, FROM WHAT I'VE
BEEN TOLD FROM WOMEN IN SPORTS,
WOMEN COLLEGE BASKETBALL, I SAY
THIS IN THE BOOK, ANYWHERE FROM
A THIRD TO 75% OF THE WOMEN'S
COLLEGE BASKETBALL COACHES ARE
SOMEWHERE ALONG THE LBGTQ
SPECTRUM.
THAT'S NOT ME TALKING, THAT'S
THE WOMEN IN BASKETBALL HAVE
TOLD ME THAT.
THE FACT THAT THERE ARE ONLY TWO
OUT HEAD COACHES IN WOMEN'S
DIVISION I BASKETBALL TELLS YOU
HOW MUCH FEAR THERE IS.
THEY DON'T WANT TO CONTRIBUTE TO
THAT STEREOTYPE.
THEY LIVE WITH THAT ALL THEIR
LIVES.
SO THEY'RE AFRAID OF ADDING TO
THAT.
AND IT IS A VERY, VERY REAL FEAR
THAT THEY FEEL.
>> WHAT'S BEEN THE EFFECT OF THE
TRANSITIONING OF CAITLIN JENNER
TO THE WORLD OF SPORTS?
>> I THINK THE EFFECT THAT
CAITLIN HAS HAD ON THE ENTIRE
WORLD IS POWERFUL.
THAT REALITY SHOW THAT IS ABOUT
HER, THAT'S BROADCAST IN
COUNTRIES ALL AROUND THE WORLD,
WHERE, BELIEVE IT OR NOT, THEY
ARE NOT NEARLY WHERE WE ARE ON
TRANSGENDER ISSUES IN AMERICA.
WE HAVE SO MANY ISSUES.
THERE'S SO MANY PLACES THAT ARE
A LOT WORSE.
HE'S A WORLDWIDE AMBASSADOR ON
TRANS ISSUES.
IN THE SPORTS WORLD, IT WAS LIKE
JASON COLLINS COMING OUT.
IT STARTED A CONVERSATION IN
PLACES WHERE IT HAD NOT EXISTED.
PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES, MOST OF
THEM PROBABLY DIDN'T KNOW WHAT
TRANSGENDER WAS.
NOW THEY DO BECAUSE OF CAITLIN.
I THINK THAT'S POWERFUL.
>> HOW WOULD YOU GENERALLY TRADE
THE MEDIA IN THE WAY THAT IT HAS
COVERED LBGTQ ISSUES WITHIN THE
SPORTS WORLD?
>> IT'S A GOOD QUESTION.
THE SPORTS MEDIA, YOU KNOW, I
GIVE THEM MAYBE A C PLUS OR A B
MINUS.
I THINK WHEN ATHLETES COME OUT,
THERE'S A LOT OF SUPPORT.
BUT WHAT I DON'T SEE ENOUGH OF
IS REALLY PROACTIVELY
IDENTIFYING STORIES AND TELLING
MORE STORIES.
THEY'RE ON THE BALL WHEN SOMEONE
COMES OUT, BUT THEY SHOULD BE
TELLING MORE OF THE STORIES OF
THE HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE
ATHLETES WHO ARE THE JACKIE
ROBINSONS OF SPORTS.
THEY ARE THE ONES CHANGING
SPORTS ON THIS ISSUE.
I THINK THE LACK OF TELLING
THOSE STORIES IS A BIG PROBLEM.
>> HOPEFULLY THIS CONVERSATION
WILL HELP IN THAT DIRECTION.
SID, THANK YOU FOR JOINING US
TODAY.
>> THANK YOU.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

WNET

© WNET All Rights Reserved.

825 Eighth Avenue

New York, NY 10019