Sexuality in Sports: Hope for a New Generation

Updated 05/20/2022 07:08

Jake Daniels signed his first professional contract with Blackpool. After that the player issues a statement: He is gay. Will his generation of footballers be able to deal openly with their sexual orientation?

It’s an uninteresting tweet from English second-tier club Blackpool – and that indifference gives hope: “A message from Jake Daniels”. No drumming, no suspense, no drama, just a nod to a message from the 17-year-old footballer, knowing full well that he will still be seen as amazing.

Anyone who follows the link reads a short personal statement from the player on the Seasiders website, who has just signed his first professional contract. In it he explains that this season could not have been better for him in terms of sport, but off the field he hides his true self, hiding who he really is: he’s known all his life that he’s gay – and now he feels ready to announce it.

A step in the right direction

Of particular note are two points about Daniels’ exit. For one thing, he is still a teenager, a stage where many young people find it difficult to accept themselves. This makes his openness even more attractive, especially as he can become a role model for other young players, who may be able to see from his example: they can follow his example, and they don’t have to wait until later in their career.

On the other hand, Daniels names Josh Cavallo as a role model for his stride. He plays in the Australian League for Adelaide United and left himself last November. He received a lot of positive encouragement for this, but he also posted anti-gay insults during a match via Instagram in January.

Cavallo is also very young at 22 and if footballers of this generation can inspire each other to stop playing hide and seek about their sexuality, that would be great for them. If you look at the history of promising players, they have always been isolated cases. For Justin Fashanu, who came out as gay in 1990, the consequences were so dire that he finally committed suicide.

It should not be kept in isolated cases

As a player without a contract, Robbie Rogers announced his homosexuality in 2013, after which he signed a contract with LA Galaxy, with whom he played in Major League Soccer (MLS) until 2017. Minnesota United set up “Pride Knight” the following year to mark the exit Colin Martin. Like others before him, Martin was “the one”, “the only one” at this point, and thus stood like everyone else before him in public focus.

As long as this is the case, in a sport steeped in toxic masculinity and a wildly unbalanced ideal of strength, it remains difficult for players to be open about when they think they are deviating from it. That’s why, after Daniels’ debut, it’s great to see how positive the football world has reacted to how much clubs like FC Barcelona or celebrities like Jurgen Klopp have been encouraged. This gives hope that Daniels can also be a role model for imitators like Cavallo. Perhaps more players will take this step in the near future, out of personal motive and of their own free will, because they realize: I feel ready.

Because unfortunately, some claim, making the case public is still an unnatural matter – and it’s hurtful and unfair to claim otherwise. Disavowing the enormous courage that football still needs to show makes this a small step when in fact our aim should be to ensure through our behavior as a society that courage is no longer necessary in the end.

Oliver Glasner, Eintracht Frankfurt, Glasgow Rangers, Europa League, Cup, Final, Seville, 2021/22

Eintracht Frankfurt lost its coach and sporting director and scored its top scorer before the 2021/22 season. As a result, the club failed in the DFB Cup and won only one of its first ten Bundesliga matches. In the end, there is a victory in the European League. Crazy general facts. (with articles from dpa)

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