Today Nike dropped their sponsorship of anti-gay boxer Manny Pacquiao after Pacquiao called gay and lesbian people “worse than animals” (actually, Miss Pacquiao… lots of animals are gayer than Christmas, but whatever). Nike’s action follows an online campaign asking Pacquiao’s other sponsors (like Nestle, Foot Locker and Wonderful Pistachios) to drop him as a spokesperson. The fact that Nike has dropped him means that they’re living up to their own pro-LGBT! marketing.
Concurrently, the soccer supply company Adidas (which is also an acronym for All Day I Dream About Sex) has added a contractual clause stating that they will not fire any sponsored athletes for coming out as LGBT. The clause states:
“Adidas acknowledges and adheres to the principles of diversity, as this is a central part of the Adidas group philosophy. Therefore Adidas warrants that this agreement will neither be terminated nor modified in case the athlete comes out to the public as a member of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community.”
Buzzfeed adds that, “the prospect of losing sponsorship deals has also long been regarded as a key factor in keeping sportspeople in the closet,” meaning that Adidas has now encouraged more athletes to come out of the closet than ever before.
But while we commend both Nike and Adidas for their dedication to a more open sports world, they’re merely the opening moves for reducing queerphobia in athletics. Remember that Michael Sam couldn’t get an American football team to sign him after he came out (although some argue that it had nothing to do with his being gay). Similarly, NFL punter Chris Kluwe retired from football after alleging that his pro-LGBT advocacy and claims of anti-gay behavior from the Minnesota Vikings’s staff made him un-hireable.
Anecdotally, whenever Unicorn Booty shares LGBT sports stories in Facebook sports groups, we inevitably get a handful of fans making comments like, “OMG GTFO with that gay shit.” A solitary fan will occasionally stand up and commend us for sharing LGBT sports news, just like some sports fans actually applaud whenever gay couples smooch on arena kiss-cams.
But considering that no professional U.S. sports team has an openly gay player in it — meaning that pro-sports has fewer queer people than organized Christianity or the military — the athletic world has a loooong way to go before it scores a true touchdown for LGBT athletes.