Homophobia is considered “rampant” in Australian sports, according to a new study entitled, “Out on the Fields.”
The Associated Foreign Press reports that in the first national study of homophobia for Australian sport, “insults, jokes and discrimination based on sexuality is commonplace both on and off the field.”
The findings come not a full week after swimming champion Ian Thorpe, 31, announced to the world that he was gay.
Thorpe said he’d waited so long for the reveal because he “had feared the consequences of coming out.”
The study focused on 2,500 Australians, including those from amateur and professional sports. Of the respondents, “85 percent of gay and bisexual people had witnessed or experienced discrimination in a sporting setting either playing or as a spectator.”
For heterosexual respondents, the number fell only slightly to 75 percent.
Around 50 percent of those identifying as LGBT said they’d been the direct target of some type of homophobia along with one in four heterosexual men.
“Casual homophobic language such as jokes and humour is commonly accepted in Australian sport while gay slurs are often seen as a very demeaning way to insult someone, regardless of their sexuality,” said researcher Caroline Symons from Melbourne’s Victoria University.
David Whittaker, president of Australia’s first gay rugby union club, the Sydney Convicts, added: “The results are eye opening, but they also confirm what we have been hearing from our players for the last 10 years…. Many of our players left their club or sport because of a culture where homophobic comments and behaviour are tolerated and commonplace.”
The “Out on the Fields” study found that among LGBT athletes, “64 percent… felt that derogatory jokes, insults or abuse were more common in sporting teams than in general society.”
AFP notes that the most common forms of homophobia manifested themselves as slurs, such as “f*g, d*ke or p**fter.” This was followed by homophobic jokes and humor and casual comments such as “That’s so gay.”
While homophobia has often existed in sports stateside, and will continue to for the foreseeable future, professional sports organizations in the U.S. are starting to show more awareness.
One of the most recognizable LGBT stars in recent memory is Michael Sam, who was drafted this year by the St. Louis Rams NFL football team.
Sam went in the late rounds of the NFL draft. As a result of that, it’s still too early to tell if he’ll see any playing time.
Do you think homophobia is more rampant in the sporting world than general society?
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