Jump to content
Camy

U.K.. The silence over gay footballers.

Recommended Posts

I don't like Football (soccer). I find it boring, though I have good friends who are rabid in support of their teams. However I had no idea that there were no gay players. None at all. Odd that, isn't it?

There are currently around 5,000 professional footballers in Britain, but none are openly gay. Amal Fashanu, niece of Justin Fashanu, asks why no gay player has followed in her uncle's boots in nearly 25 years.

http://www.bbc.co.uk...gazine-16722196

Link to comment

Given our track record with separate and unequal sports organizations ( think Negro league baseball and the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League), I would expect any coming out announcements by professional football players to result in a separate league but with cute uniforms.

Link to comment

I have a lot of sympathy for gay athletes that feel that it's difficult to come out of the closet. It certainly wouldn't be easy for the first few to do so. A few have done it, but the underlying culture has to change first.

In Australia, there's a lot of public support for gay rights amongst Australian Rules professionals, but despite this there are still no openly gay football players in the AFL (Australian Football League). There are stories about players who are believed to be gay (though I haven't heard any names), but none are out yet. It's a big step - bigger in some ways that coming out to your family - because it's coming out to the general public at the same time. Top athletes in high profile sports are public figures... and they'll have to cope with idiot members of the public as well as everyone else if they come out.

What I find promising is that there are more openly gay athletes at the lower levels. Club football here in Australia, and college sports in the USA. Sooner or later one of those will make it to the top level... and they won't have to come out because they'll already be out before they reach that elite level. It's just a matter of time....

Link to comment

This is true for almost all professional sports everywhere. I know there was a rugby player by the name of Gareth Thomas who publicly came out. I believe he's now retired but I think he played both league and union and maybe even some international play.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gareth_Thomas_%28rugby%29

Gareth, known as Alfie, is a Welsh hero, some say the greatest Welsh rugby player ever. Although he's now retired (and currently making a fool of himself in the 'Big Brother' house on TV) he came out while still playing, the first major male sports star to do so.

Link to comment

http://en.wikipedia....mas_%28rugby%29

Gareth, known as Alfie, is a Welsh hero, some say the greatest Welsh rugby player ever. Although he's now retired (and currently making a fool of himself in the 'Big Brother' house on TV) he came out while still playing, the first major male sports star to do so.

*cough* *cough*

Ian Roberts, Australian and International Rugby League player came out in 1995 - 14 years before Gareth :razz: That was near the end of his career, though - he retired in 1998 (he missed the 1996 season due to injuries). He's still very much respected.

Link to comment

I recall Graeme wrote a nice short story about American football players a while ago. Worth reading.

In high school, if you'd suggested to me that any of those big, ultra macho football players were gay, I would've blinked and laughed incredulously. It would've sounded unbelievable (to me). Yes, I should've known better, but I didn't. (Note, yes, I do know "football" is soccer in international usage.) I should probably also say, of course, not all the jocks on the football team (or other sports) were the ultra macho stereotype. Neither were all the cheerleaders bimbos. Too many were, though. A few were good guys and girls. I do wish they hadn't been so bad to our school's first male cheerleader and mascot. He was (and as far as I know is) a great guy.

Most sports still don't take well to players being out. The guys get worried. In one way, I suppose that's understandable. But in another, it's the stereotype that a gay person can't keep their hands or thoughts (or other appendages) to themselves, or that they'll be attracted to every guy around them. Not so, of course.

That isn't being helped any by the increased worries about privacy in public settings like locker rooms, changing rooms, and bathrooms, or in general. Now, I grew up as one of those boys very shy about his body. I was pale and skinny and short, at least up until junior high and high school, when I started catching up, except in weight. And that was without the first inklings that hey, I liked guys. But adding those feelings into it, I was very nervous about not looking and not being seen. (A friend once pointed out, if I'd let myself look some, I might've noticed if anyone was looking back, heheh.) But that was at a time and in a place where it was only mildly any big deal, no more so than for most guys. Now, however, it sounds as though everyone has that same "fear of seeing and being seen" and phobias about same-sex activity, or age-inappropriate activity, somehow happening, simply from being around each other in a setting changing clothes or having physical contact (sports, hugging, anything). Now, as someone who had to grow out of that inhibited shyness, I can say that being that focused on it all is not healthy.

If only our sports and gym classes (and culture in general) could relax about such unfounded fears.

As a teen especially, sure I was curious and wished I could look or someone would be interested. But how to deal with that if they were? LOL, oh my. Yet even so, that didn't mean I was going to like every guy in the room or get excited about it. I was, in fact, worried and hoping I *wouldn't*. I had manners, and shyness, and boundaries. I really wish that people who worry so much about gay contact (or whatever else) in those contexts would realize that just because I'm gay, it doesn't mean I'm going to be interested or act on it, any more than when they see someone they think is good looking at the beach or other public setting. ...But then, I wish my teenage self could've understood things like that too.

Our society has somehow gotten very hung up or immature, and very paranoid about this. Considering the word-history, the meaning, of the word "gymnasium," it's strange we have gotten to this point, and that we seem headed toward further demonizing it before sanity takes over again.

Possibly, though, there's enough current going the other way that things will change for the better. I have heard of a few cases where players of various sports came out without problems. That acceptance is healthier.

Link to comment

*cough* *cough*

Ian Roberts, Australian and International Rugby League player came out in 1995 - 14 years before Gareth :razz: That was near the end of his career, though - he retired in 1998 (he missed the 1996 season due to injuries). He's still very much respected.

Whoops I was just going on the Wikipedia article, and I'd misread it. Gareth was the only major male sports star to be openly gay and currently competing at the time a newspaper said so in May 2010. My apologies!

Link to comment

Most sports still don't take well to players being out. The guys get worried. In one way, I suppose that's understandable. But in another, it's the stereotype that a gay person can't keep their hands or thoughts (or other appendages) to themselves, or that they'll be attracted to every guy around them. Not so, of course.

That's why I think it'll help when an athlete is already out before they reach the elite level. It's going to be something already known and factored in by all concerned.

Whoops I was just going on the Wikipedia article, and I'd misread it. Gareth was the only major male sports star to be openly gay and currently competing at the time a newspaper said so in May 2010. My apologies!

No problems. I suspected that was the case. An openly gay athlete in a major sport is reasonably rare, especially in team sports. In Australia, the only openly gay athlete that comes to mind is Matthew Mitcham (Olympic Gold Medalist in diving), but that's not a major sport here, nor is it a team sport. I think there may be one or two in women's sports, but those sports are also not high profile here. In the major sports (football - various codes, and cricket), I can't think of any current players who are openly gay. Some have come out after they've retired, but Ian Roberts is, I think, the last one to do so while playing, and that was over ten years ago!

Link to comment

While I can't speak to soccer, I know American football and played all through school.

American football is a very regimented game where team is emphasized over the individual. It does not surprise me at all that players would remain silent because of the dominate culture. The culture of the game is replete with cliches: there is no "I" in TEAM. Players that disrupt team unity for any reason are dealt with swiftly by most coaching staffs. You don't see players run their mouth at the lower levels like you do at the professional level. Even at that level, being percieved as a diva can shorten you career considerably.

It's NOT a matter of talent. There are a lot of people that can play. It is a matter of chemistry, cohesion and focus. If you want to play the game, there is a lot of stuff you are expected to leave outside even the locker room. Trust and cohesion are such an essential part of the game, players are expected to subordinate themselves to the task at hand. If you can't do that, you'll be shown the door.

Link to comment

When I was a junior in high school, two seniors on the football team came out as boyfriends. One was a quarterback, the other an end. This happened about two weeks into the school year and before any of the football games. There was lots of talking and some tittering among the girls, but everyone accepted them and the team members were very protective of both of them. Both went on to college, but not on football scholarships, and I don't know what school or schools they attended. A kid who was a sophomore on the wrestling team also came out with not a ripple. No one refused to wrestle against him because he was gay. A kid in my year who was goth-emo-gay was a ticket taker at sporting events. If anyone coming into the stadium ragged on him about how he looked other kids from my school would intervene and prevent anything from happening.

Colin :icon_geek:

Link to comment

Glad to hear that Colin. I was born with the anti-team gene. I revolted at an early age to the idea of enforced 'team spirit' because I saw it as a sublimation of the individual's talent for the sake of the group. I could and still do abide by the idea of cooperation and an ensemble of people working together, but the team has come to mean a way for the corporate or bureaucratic mindset to ridicule individual talent for the sole purpose of exercising power. This is particularly so where the team is used as a cover to deprive the individual of reward and recognition for outstanding effort.

I understand the principle behind sportsmanship, but I don't see it being appreciated in those communities bent on winning at all costs, by promoting team effort which denies the unique gifts of the individual.

I know it isn't always like that, and I am reminded of that great achievement of the human race, the symphony orchestra, where the members do come together despite their differences, because of the differences really; for the purposes of creating what someone else considers beautiful. In the artistic environment it is common, necessary even, to put the most talented in the lead, but team always make me somewhat edgy and uncomfortable because the best are expected to conceal themselves within or behind the group.

It's quite a large philosophical subject actually, but I can only sum up my position by saying, as I have told many a manager, "I ain't no damn team player."

What heartens me is when any group supports the individual's right to be themselves. On the other hand there is always that extraordinary moment when an individual sacrifices themselves for the group. It is here, think, that I can clarify my disdain for the team concept as it currently utilised. The individual in a team is expected to sacrifice themselves. The team is expected to support the individual. The problem is with the expectation being a demand, an enforced, authoritarian rule.

There is no freedom where these expectations are demanded. The one must be in a position of freely giving to the many, as each of the many must freely support the one. Then and only then does it make sense for us to work in a group environment. It is wrong to force people to sacrifice for others. We have to want to make that sacrifice; not because we have been told to do it, but because it is what we, without coercion, have decided is what we want to do.

Team spirit does not often mean that anymore.

Link to comment

Des, I quite understand that you are an individual who cannot bring himself to sublimate your personality and actions to the control of some overseer who coordinates the work of a group whose members must agree to submit individuality to team effort. But surely you must acknowlege and respect the purpose of such efforts as well as their outcomes, whether they be team sports played well or the building of a skyscraper. There are so many human projects that could never succeed without the team mentality, and there are countless individuals whose greatest achievement, in their own eyes, was their ability to function as part of a team.

Link to comment

The individual's participation in the team effort is often at the expense of their freedom to choose to function as part of a team. This was my early experience in school where I was forced to play football, until I, luckily, produced a doctor's certificate saying I could not play sport because of my health.

Later in my more recent employments, I was told to be a team member, despite the fact that I worked alone. This was purely an administrator's attempt to intimidate me for her own sense of power over others. She lost the argument and had to resign.

Merkin wrote;

Des, I quite understand that you are an individual who cannot bring himself to sublimate your personality and actions to the control of some overseer who coordinates the work of a group whose members must agree to submit individuality to team effort.

I actually have no problem with the above, or as you state, "there are countless individuals whose greatest achievement, in their own eyes, was their ability to function as part of a team. "

My objection is where the team mentality is used by sociopathic management to intimidate and manipulate people who would be quite happy to work in a team environment were it not for them being forced to join the team effort.

My point is that the team members must be free to take part in the team, free to agree to join the team, and that is what is not happening, just like it would have been for me at school, had I not had a medical escape route. It's quite okay to ask people to join a team, but the thing that gets me is when people are forced to join a team against their will or at the loss, of their ability to be who they are.

That would be like saying, you can join my church if you stop practising homosexuality.

Link to comment

Des:

I can certainly understand what you're saying, but you're taking an exceptionally narrow view, something that you rarely do.

For a team effort to succeed, generally, the team must agree that the goal is worthy, and that by giving their all to achieve it, they’ll also be achieving personal satisfaction. If they do that, buy off on the worthiness of the goal, then they willingly do what they can for that success. They are sublimating their efforts for the whole, but they are also achieving great success from the effort and the achievement. They are not being used, they are not being taken advantage of, they are doing what they want to do.

The symphony orchestra was a strange example to use so show how the best have to hide themselves within the group to achieve success. You can of course see it that way if you wish, but it is not the way the players themselves see it. They play the best they can, but try not to stand out over anyone else, unless the music calls for that. Are they sacrificing their talents by doing that, disparaging their abilities? It's actually the opposite: they are utilizing their talents, their training, their experiences to the max to form an ensemble where only the meld of musicians is heard. Do you know how hard that is? Listen to any amateur group and it'll be obvious.

The very same thing happens in business, and it sports. The best pull together, putting their efforts towards however success is measured. They aren't being forced to reduce themselves. They are doing what needs to be done the best they can for the overall success of the unit, and also doing what they want to do as individuals.

Yes, if you don't buy off on what the team goal is, then it can be a terribly difficult situation, and you'll never be really happy. If you don't care about what the goal is, then you're much better off not putting any effort behind achieving it. But your attitude seems to be the for the most part, teams exploit their members.

I think that was probably more true a number of years ago when both you and I were young. Management philosophies were different then. You were expected to do what you were told, the boss was the ultimate power, and no one said much. Today, that philosophy still exists in some places, but it is fast being replaced, and has mostly been replaced by a more modern approach where workers are given great latitude to create within their own sphere of influence, as long as the ultimate goal is still being worked toward. Workers today are generally happier. Of course, workers today are also generally more educated. The old methods don't work as well. Which is why changes have been and are being made.

I think you're a bit too pessimistic, but then you're from the same old school I attended. And I will readily admit, in those systems, I wasn't the best team player, either. I balked when I saw inefficiencies and lack of intelligence being brought to bear, but was told to do what I was told and leave the rest to people above me. But today it's different, mostly. Companies, and sports teams, that haven't awakened to that aren't flourishing.

Colin’s example is part of what we’re getting now. His school woke up, and changed their environment. People are now being celebrated as individuals there, and allowed their own creative spark. How much better the world is if this is the siren call of the future.

C

Link to comment

Cole wrote:

The symphony orchestra was a strange example to use so show how the best have to hide themselves within the group to achieve success. You can of course see it that way if you wish, but it is not the way the players themselves see it. They play the best they can, but try not to stand out over anyone else, unless the music calls for that. Are they sacrificing their talents by doing that, disparaging their abilities? It's actually the opposite: they are utilizing their talents, their training, their experiences to the max to form an ensemble where only the meld of musicians is heard. Do you know how hard that is? Listen to any amateur group and it'll be obvious.

My intent with the orchestra example was to illustrate exactly what you claim, Cole. I certainly didn't mean to suggest that the orchestra members hide behind each other, indeed they don't; what they do is, they agree to play together for the greater good. The point is they choose to do it, want to do it. And yes, I know how difficult it is to meld the choirs of the orchestra, particularly when the composer has a definite and unique result in mind.

It's not the matter of disagreeing with the objective of the team effort, though I'd agree with you that if the aim appeals to the individual, they may well agree to the terms of joining the team as it fits their own goals. But the real issue here, for me, narrow or not, is the removal of the individual to be free to join a team as opposed to being forced to join the team. This is a change from the dominant hierarchical control of the old managers of yesteryear, to the manipulative controlling sociopaths of today who are more than manipulative, they are psychotic, in their desire to control others and use 'team effort' as a means to have power over them. You can recognise them because their mantra is that will do 'whatever it takes'. For them, the end justifies the means - something else with which, I philosophically disagree.

I don't see enforced cooperative team effort in today's business world anything other, than as a deceptive practice for management to appear to be 'nice guys.' Most of the time they are far worse than the old slave drivers. I don't think that is the same as people freely making a contributory effort as a group. I do think for the most part that there are psychotic 'team leaders' who are nothing less than 'Little Hitlers' taking advantage of the team spirit. I certainly do not see workers being happier today than those of yesteryear. Most of them seem to be the justifiably, disgruntled, unsatisfied, and depressed members of what is referred to as the 99%. They are over-taxed, under-paid, over-worked, and under-appreciated. They are patronised into believing they are valued members of the 'team'. In this context they are regarded by management as morons with legal rights to occupational health and safety regulations that costs the company money that should be profits. Why do you think so many companies are against legislation for ant-discrimination in the work place? It can cost them money. Practically anything that can empower the workers to recognise their rights and freedoms is deposed by appealing to their sense of an all-encompassing 'team effort'. We used to encourage and reward loyalty; now, we lie to our staff about their worth so they stay as long as they're useful to us.

I have seen 18 year old teenagers who cannot even use a calculator, without a support group, one of whom was made a state manager with the power to hire and fire, as well as direct senior staff to NOT do the job they were qualified and hired to do. When questioned, they admitted they were told to harp on team spirit to 'encourage' staff to resign, because the company wanted to run the business down and get out of that part of the business, so it could concentrate on running their other ventures. They reasoned that if staff became unhappy and left, then severance payments would not have to be made to those who resigned.

So, is there a societal change that we might look forward to, with teams of people happily and freely contributing to do the work they want to do? I guess my anti-authoritarian nature says no, and my anarchical leftist side says, not whilst we worship capitalist free markets in preference to humanist socialism.

On the otherhand, there are signs such as Colin describes that good change is on the horizon, but it is a distant vista with a sweeping danger for our future if we do not address the subterfuge of using behavioural manoeuvres like 'team effort' to manipulate people.

Subject as we are, to political and theocratic attempts to control the population, not to mention the proposed threat to the Internet, we are not preparing, all that well, for the technological changes ahead, and despots are waiting whilst their managers cull the sheep from the team, not so they can get rid of them but so they can keep them, and fleece them into thinking they are doing a good job for very little pay, whilst the troublemakers with their knowledge and skills are made redundant, or urged to die early.

On the positive side, there are signs that it is being recognised that computers can't always supply the knowledge and skills needed for our civilisation, and steps are being taken to correct that view.

I'm not trying to oppose your post, Cole, but explain that I have different experiences that have rendered me very cynical whenever I hear someone talk about team efforts, and I wanted to state why I fear for those who are seduced into think the team is a good thing, because it can be, and is used as a means of intimidation. That's wrong.

Link to comment

Anything's possible, and it's possible that some of what you say still goes on. My conjecture is that it's far, far less rampant now than in the 50s and 60s, or even the 70s.

We got to the moon. We did it with a team effort. There was no way we could have done that without a group all pulling toward a common goal. Would everyone have fit in that team? No, obviously not. But were the members of the team happy sublimating their efforts to that of the team? From everything I've read, they were ecstatic. They put the goal ahead of their personal feelings.

You can't exploit someone if doing what you want is also doing what he wants. You seem to be skipping that part of my argument. If someone wants to achieve a goal, and recognizes the need for a team to accomplish it, and wants to work withing the parameters of the team, then it isn't exploitation.

Not everyone is built to be a team player. Certainly there are prima donnas who need personal notice and praise, and these people don't do well in a team environment. There are also recluses who'd much rather work independently. There are all sort of people and personalities in this world. Some work in team situations better than others. Not all of them are being exploited.

C

Link to comment

Cole said:

You can't exploit someone if doing what you want is also doing what he wants. You seem to be skipping that part of my argument. If someone wants to achieve a goal, and recognizes the need for a team to accomplish it, and wants to work withing the parameters of the team, then it isn't exploitation.

I thought we had agreed on that, but I see that our use of the word, exploit, differs, as does our reference to the need for a team. What I am maintaining is, that the moment the individual is forced to be a team member, then he is not merely being exploited, he is being treated like a thing, a slave, and in this modern age, an automaton, with little, if any, regard for his humanity.

Exploitation is another matter which people can agree to, either individually or as a group. Actors, in a play or movie, working as a group, agree to have their talents exploited by the director, and they can do that as an ensemble or as an individual. They are not, in my definition, being forced, because they want to be part of the production, and if their talents are being exploited then they are willing for that to happen.

The question then arises if you can call it exploitation, if you agree to being exploited. As any actor who is unhappy with the way his role in a movie was edited will tell you, you definitely can be exploited, but the element of force is not present, and my concern is with the force, the underhanded lying and coercion that is used to manipulate team members into thinking of themselves as only worthy in a team environment, and which does not yield the moon landing satisfaction you cite when so many groups of individuals have willingly worked together towards a successful result.

The willingness to be exploited is pivotal here, but it is not the issue of my argument which is, that behavioural psychology that is used to make people feel worthy simply because they are told they are members of a team, amounts to manipulation, and often that manipulation is detrimental to the well-being of the individual's self respect, and ultimately affects the project in hand.

What we may be missing here, and what I'm trying to convey, is that team effort, which respects individuality, is a far cry from using the idea of 'team effort' to quell individual innovation in order to achieve what the individual would never agree to if they knew that was the aim of forming the team. In my experience, it is a common tool for corporate mindsets in particular, to tell a group of workers that they are a 'team' just to get them to comply with company covert objectives, rather than actually form that team of people who work together for a common and understood objective. In other words, the term 'team' becomes a workplace tool for management to manipulate individuals.

In the old days, the boss would make grand speeches about the staff being 'one big happy family'. Today they talk about everyone belonging to a 'team'. Where either of these are used disingenuously, then the members who make up the 'family', or the 'team' are being manipulated, and usually just to get the 'damnable' workers to toe the line of compliance, rather than make a contribution.

Prima donnas and recluses fall outside the context of my argument as they rarely will acquiesce to the demands of a group either because they are egotistical or free-spirited, but that is a different discussion.

Cole, I trust we are both happy to explore this subject with our usual candour and respect for each other. I must say your replies have encouraged me to clarify my thoughts and my attempts to convey them here for our mutual consideration. We don't have to agree, or even agree to disagree, we're just discussing.

Link to comment

Cole, I trust we are both happy to explore this subject with our usual candour and respect for each other. I must say your replies have encouraged me to clarify my thoughts and my attempts to convey them here for our mutual consideration. We don't have to agree, or even agree to disagree, we're just discussing.

Obviously there is no rancor here. I was surprised with the narrowness of your original tenet. You've opened up here, and I can see more rationality in your argument now.

C

Link to comment

The strange thing, James, is that I mostly agree with him. I was never a team player when I was working, which didn't enamor me to my superiors. And they did try to inculcate a team spirit. But that simply wasn't me and wasn't the way I did my best work.

We'd sometimes gather people from around the company from different divisons and meet together for team building activities. I did terribly at them. I either wanted to be in charge and lead the group I was in, or do very little participation at all. I had this heady idea that my ideas were sounder than those of other members of the team.

The upshot of the exercises were that the teams that had worked together the best came up with the best solutions to the problems we were given. In my own groups, that was also true. My ideas weren't better than those of the combinded team.

This was sobering to me, but still, working in a team like that just wasn't me. I didn't fit in, any more than Des would. We might have done better as a group, but I didn't get much satisfaction from that. Which is why I said, you have to buy into the goal the group is reaching for to get satiscation from participating in the successful attainment of it.

However, I think the concept of team isn't necessarily exploitive, and that team successes can provide great satisfaction for the individuals. That it din't fit with my personality doesn't mean the concept is wrong, only that it's wrong for me and my satisfaction doing a job.

What do you think, James?

C

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...


×
×
  • Create New...