International study to examine homophobia in sport
A groundbreaking international study into homophobia in sport has been launched in Australia a week after Michael Sam became the first openly gay player to be drafted into the National Football League.
The defensive end was selected as the 249th pick by the St. Louis Rams last week and if he makes the team's 53-man roster would become the first openly gay player in the NFL.
Organisers of the Bingham Cup, the World Cup for gay rugby teams, launched the "Out on the Fields" study on Friday in Sydney with high profile support from Wallabies flanker David Pocock and former British and Irish Lions captain Gareth Thomas.
The study will be administered by academics at universities in the United States, Britain, Canada and Australia and results will be made available before the 2014 Bingham Cup tournament begins in Sydney in late August.
"I think it's really important that we find out just how prevalent prejudice against people with different sexual orientations is in sport, so that we can begin challenging it at all levels," Pocock said.
"I hope people take part in this study so that we do have some concrete evidence and stories of people's experiences."
Former Lions captain Thomas, who came out in 2009 after a lengthy international rugby career with Wales, added he hoped the study would make it easier for gay sports people to be accepted by their team-mates and opposition.
"Many athletes around the world fear they won't be accepted by their team-mates and others if they are honest about their sexuality," Thomas added.
"I was one of those athletes and I wish, at the time, I understood how many other people were experiencing the same thing."