Friday, 27 December 2013

Times: Brave Daley won’t inspire a gay revolution
[Excerpt from the article entitled: English football lands in a spot of trouble over fixing]
Sunday, December 15, 2013, 00:01 by James Calvert

In an ideal world, Olympic world champion 10-metre diver Tom Daley’s coming out as gay would trigger a wave of similar announcements by gay footballers, but in the macho, chauvinistic football world, sticks don’t get much more tempting than sexuality. Photo: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Olympic 10-metre diver Tom Daley announced earlier this month that he is ‘dating a man’, making him one of the most high-profile British sportsmen ever to come out.

The Commonwealth and World Champion made his announcement at the age of 19, which is particularly admirable considering he is still in the relatively early stages of his sporting career.

Other gay sportsmen that have gone public with their sexuality (and there have only been a few) have generally waited until they all but ready to retire, fearful of an adverse reaction from supporters as well as potential lost sponsorship and endorsement revenue.

Daley, however, decided there was no time like the present and took to You Tube to tell the world how happy he is with his boyfriend.

It is a move that has been widely described as brave, and I would have to agree. While society as a whole may have become more mature and grown-up about people’s sexuality, some sports fans are not nearly as accepting.

There is still a stigma attached to the concept of sporting icons being anything other than bog standard heterosexual.

Daley making the move he did at the time he did was essentially him prioritising his personal happiness. And he went ahead with it despite some members of his family trying to persuade him otherwise.

Of course, only time will tell what sort of effect it has on his career. But I suspect he isn’t overly concerned, which is fair play to the lad.

Daley’s move has prompted some observers to suggest gay footballers should follow his lead and come out rather than living an unhappy lie.
Instead of thinking that was a stupid thing to do, we are now going to start wondering if the player was paid for his troubles

There are currently no openly gay players in any of the top leagues in England or Scotland. And with thousands of professional footballers in those leagues, it is mathematically impossible that every single one of them is heterosexual.

In an ideal world, Daley coming out would be the catalyst that triggers a wave of similar announcements in the football world. It would be a huge moment in the history of football if this ridiculous barrier could be broken down once and for all.

However, there is a world of difference between diving and football (apart from where Ashley Young is concerned, of course), and the reception Daley gets when he next steps out at the pool will be monumentally different to the way a hostile football crowd would treat a player who has announced he is gay.

Football fans are happy to beat opposition players with any stick they can get their hands on. And in the macho, chauvinistic world of football, sticks don’t get much more tempting than sexuality.

Of course, I could be completely wrong. A top player may come out tomorrow and get a standing ovation from all four sides of the ground when he next takes to the pitch. But somehow I suspect that wouldn’t be the case. And, even if it was, it certainly wouldn’t last.

And that’s why I seriously doubt Daley’s brave announcement will spark a gay revolution within football.

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