Documentary Explores Closeted Pro Athletes “Alone In The Game”

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A new documentary from AT&T Audience Network, Alone in the Game, reveals the constant challenges that LGBT athletes face in the competitive arena of pro sports.

Interviews with former Olympic freeskier Gus Kenworthy, NBA center Jason Collins, MLS Cup champion Robbie Rogers, NFL draftee Michael Sam, NBA commissioner Adam Silver, former ESPN president John Skipper, and triathlete Chris Mosier are among those included in the film.

In a sobering moment that illustrates how deep the fear of coming out in pro sports can be, former NFL lineman Ryan O’Callaghan admits, “I’d always planned on killing myself when I was done with football.”

“I thought I’d rather be dead than an out gay man,” he adds.

Ryan O’Callaghan in “Alone in the Game”

In one scene of the film, a gay Division I football player asked to have his face and voice disguised to explain why he won’t come out of the closet: “I’m not ashamed, just scared.”

“If there wasn’t homophobia in sports, and if everyone felt comfortable to be who they were, then everyone who was gay would be out,” says Olympic soccer player Megan Rapinoe.

“We’re giving viewers a rare look into the lives of these elite athletes’ unique journeys and open their eyes to the daily challenges these athletes face on and off the field of play,” says executive producer and creator of Alone in the Game, David McFarland.

“With added attention to this issue, I’m hopeful we can affect real change at the highest levels of American sport and that the next generation of LGBTQ athletes will be judged by their athletic performance, rather than their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

With the retirement of Robbie Rogers from pro soccer and Jason Collins from the NBA, there are currently no out athletes in any of the major professional team sports in the U.S.

Watch the trailer below. Alone in the Game premieres June 28 on AT&T Audience Network.

Skater Adam Rippon Could Be One Of The Few Openly Gay Skaters At 2018 Olympics After Strong Short Program

Adam Rippon

Twenty-eight-year-old figure skater Adam Rippon had an excellent night at the 2018 U.S. National championships last night coming in just a tad behind reigning national champ Nathan Chen.

Rippon, a two-time world junior champ, scored a personal-best of 96.52 points which leaves him within striking distance of Chen who notched a 104.45 in the short program.

Rippon, who came out in 2015, missed out on the 2014 Olympic team due to a flu that kept him from posting his best at the nationals that year.

More bad luck followed as he missed nationals last year due to a broken foot.

But Rippon isn’t dwelling on past disappointments.

From The L.A. Times:

“Every disappointment I’ve ever had has made me so much stronger and so much better. I wouldn’t be the person I am now, I wouldn’t appreciate what I’m doing right now as much as I do if I didn’t have those ups and downs of not making the team, of breaking my foot, of feeling like I’ve come up short.”

He was shaky during the six-minute warmup but coaxed himself to relax. “I said, ‘Girl, you tight,’” he recalled. It worked, putting him in position to become one of the few openly gay figure skaters to compete at the Olympics.

He joked that being a gay athlete is “exactly like being a straight athlete, only with better eyebrows,” but he’s serious about being a role model to kids because he never had one.

“I think sharing my story has made me a better competitor because I don’t really care what other people think of me. I’m able to go out there and I’m really able to be unabashedly myself. And I love myself,” he said. “When I’m able to go out there and just really be me, I’m able to put my hard work forward and I want somebody who’s young, who’s struggling, who’s not sure if it’s OK if they are themselves, to know that it’s OK that there are so many people out there who have the same worries. …If you set your mind to something, you can truly do anything.”

The men’s free skate competition is on Saturday.

Watch Rippin’s short program below.

Tonight On HBO: “Back On Board – Greg Louganis”

Do not miss “Back on Board: Greg Louganis,” a documentary following the life of openly gay and HIV-positive Olympian Greg Louganis, on HBO tonight at 10PM.

Only 28-years-old when he was first diagnosed with HIV, Louganis was one of the first openly gay men in sports. The documentary chronicles the four-time Olympic gold medalist’s life since becoming a household name in the 1980s.

“I didn’t feel welcomed in diving,” Louganis, now 55 years old, says in the trailer. “There was homophobia. Some of my teammates were calling my fag.”

Louganis’s decision to live openly and authentically paved the way for several other gay and lesbian athletes, such as Michael Sam, Jason Collins, Robbie Rogers, Brittney Griner, Orlando Cruz, Megan Rapinoe, Lori Lindsey and Tom Daley.

2014 Bingham Cup begins in Australia

Did someone say “Rugby?”

The Bingham Cup is held every two years, inviting rugby players from all over the world – regardless of their sexual orientation – to come enjoy the sport they love without fear of judgement or discrimination.

Called the “World Cup of Gay Rugby,” the event is named after Mark Bingham who died standing up to terrorists on Flight 93 on September 11, 2001. Bingham was a sports enthusiast who played rugby for the San Francisco Fog.

Thirty rugby teams from 15 countries will take part in this year’s event, which runs through August 31.

Brad Thorson – San Francisco Fog Centre

Chris Buckmaster – Kings Cross Steelers Captain

Michael Sam signs four-year contract with St. Louis Rams

This past Thursday, Michael Sam made history again as he signed a four-year contract with the St. Louis Rams reportedly worth $2.65 million.

Built into the contract is a $46,000 guarantee.

All 11 members selected by the Rams during the 2014 Draft made the final cut.

In celebration, Sam tweeted this photo of his rookie teammates with the caption, “Grateful, humbled, and motivated after officially signing with all my Rams rookie brothers.”

Former NFL star Deion Sanders: There were gays on every NFL team I played on

Deion Sanders sat down with Arsenio Hall to talk about out football player Michael Sam.  Sanders mentions that every NFL team he played on had gay players.

Unfortunately, he drops alcoholism and drug use in the same sentence as gays which doesn’t sit well with me. But I think he’s trying to send a positive message somewhere in all this:

“I don’t nor do I condemn, but I’ve had a friend, family members… Everyone out there, you’ve had someone of homosexuality in your family — and someone whose on drugs and alcohol. How can I judge them? It’s up to me to give him love, to give him support, to just be there for him. So I don’t condone nor I condemn. But I’m gonna love him.

“Everybody in the NFL is always talking about football as a family but when you have the opportunity to really extend and show them that you’re a family member, this is the opportunity. He’s not the first gay guy in the NFL! He’s the first one to come out, let’s get that straight. Every team I’ve played on, there was someone…we always knew. But he was cool. That was our boy. We had to look out for him.

“Every team I’ve played on – five different teams – there was someone gay in the locker room.”


Out NBA-er Jason Collins signed by Brooklyn Nets

From Yahoo Sports:

Jason Collins has reached agreement on a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets, clearing the way for the first openly gay athlete in major professional sports history, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Collins will be signed and available to play on Sunday when the Nets meet the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center, sources told Yahoo.

Collins, 35, has been out of the NBA since completing the 2012-’13 season with the Washington Wizards.

Collins played parts of seven years with the Nets between 2001-08, and his ex-teammate, Jason Kidd, now the Nets coach, has been advocate of signing him.

Hudson Taylor, Executive Director of Athlete Ally issued a statement via press release: “I have seen first hand how committed the NBA is to ensuring that every team is welcoming and inclusive. It’s invested in this effort and it’s invested in Jason. I could not be happier for the NBA family today. Congratulations!”

(h/t JMG)

New York Giants Terrell Thomas: America is ready for gay player; NFL is not

In an interview with ESPN, New York Giants corner back Terrell Thomas said that he was “unsure” about the prospects of an openly gay player in the NFL:

“I think society is ready for it and America’s ready for it, but I don’t think the NFL is,” Thomas said. “As a player, all you want to know is if he can play. That’s on the field. But in the locker room, it’s different. There’s a lot of talk and joking around, and some guys walk around completely naked all the time, and they might not want to do that anymore. When you add that situation to the mix, I think it’s going to make some people uncomfortable.”

Thomas told ESPN that because of his “personal views as a Christian,” he was uncertain about how he felt on the issue personally.

When asked why an NFL locker room environment might find it difficult to cope with an openly gay player when the University of Missouri team accepted Michael Sam, Thomas said it was “different”:

“I just think it’s different when you put him in an NFL locker room with a bunch of grown men, the way we are around each other, and with people who don’t already know him.

“Their locker room accepted him, but at the same time, their locker room knew him before he came out. If he would have said it after his second year in the league, things might be different. But to come in as a rookie who nobody knows and have this be the big story, that could make it tough for some people to handle.