LZ Granderson joins Bill Simmons podcast to discuss sexual orientation in sports
Openly gay columnist LZ Granderson, who frequently contributes to ESPN and CNN, joined Bill Simmons aka “The Sports Guy” for his January 11th podcast of “The B.S. Report”. (Archive of other BS Report shows here.)
The podcast is an hour long, and Granderson and Simmons spent the significant portion – the first 30 minutes – discussing the intersection of issues of sexual orientation in the realm of sports.
The expected topics were all covered: why a male athlete in the big 3 (football, basketball, and hockey) is not out, when that could be, if Granderson knows any closeted athletes, etc. I especially appreciate Granderson’s realistic perspective on the state of progress on several fronts.
They began their discussion under the timely connection with Steve Buckley, a Boston area sports columnist recently coming out. (Simmons is an unapologetic die-hard Boston sports fanatic.) Simmons offered his kudos to Buckley for writing the “I’m gay” column, but he also expected more from it now that so much progress has been made suggesting the column on its own isn’t quite news anymore.
Granderson’s response was superb. While it may not seem like much a story to someone who is a progressive thinker, like Simmons, that he is sure someone out there needed to hear Buckley’s mere words of honesty without additional commentary.
Simmons also asked, and I agree with his perspective here, is whether it may actually be a good career move for the right kind of athlete to come out. His hypothetical athlete was one of those athletes in the last third of their career, early 30s, maybe had a few all-star games in their day. Simmons felt that this kind of athlete could come out, while still playing, and become a hero for a community and also reap rewards, like a book deal and an ad or two, from a marketing perspective.
While I agree that Simmons is accurate in that it could be a beneficial career movie, again, Granderson offered some additional words to supplement the perspective. Granderson thinks it is more likely that it would be someone who wanted to move the conversation forward for societal gains, rather than for individual career gains.
(But for the record, Granderson believes it is more likely that an athlete will be outed by the media.)
Another question that everyone wants to know: how many closeted gay athletes are there? Simmons asks Granderson how many athletes have approached him to speak confidentially, seeking advice, etc.
Granderson responds that there are a handful of men in the top 3 sports. He said that sometimes they talk to him simply to blow off steam and sometimes to ask for advice. At one point, Granderson thought an athlete he knew may come out because they were in a relationship and wanted to be in a position to enjoy it without so much secrecy. That obviously has not occurred yet and Granderson is not sure if/when it will.
The two also discussed some of the differences with marketing in the WNBA and the stereotypical assumptions between male and female athletes.
Granderson is a fantastic individual for our community and I am glad Simmons invited him onto the podcast to further the discussion.