2018 NASSS Annual Conference
Sport Soundtrack: Sport, Music, & Culture

Edward (Ted) Kian

Oklahoma State University
Meta-Analysis of Media Coverage of Gay Professional Teamsport Athletes Since Jason Collins

In April 2013, Jason Collins became the first active athlete in one of North America’s “Big 4” men’s professional teamsport leagues to come out as gay. In February 2014, Collins was the first openly gay athlete in one of those four sport leagues to play in regular-season games. Two months later, football player Michael Sam became the first openly gay athlete drafted in a “Big 4” sport. Additionally, in January 2014, Thomas Hitzperger became the first former athlete in one of Europe’s three most popular soccer leagues to come out. All of these were lauded as monumental breakthroughs for gays and lesbians by sport media. Since then, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in all 50 states and numerous gay and lesbian athletes at all levels of sport have come out publicly. However, only one former athlete in any of the Big 4 North American pro teamsports has come out since Collins’ revelation, and those leagues are seemingly no closer to having a prominent, well-known openly gay athlete despite increasing societal acceptance. Why? This meta-analysis examines major research on sport media coverage of LGBT since Collins came out before looking ahead to the future of sports media and LGBT athletes.