So, are sports fans ready to cheer on openly gay players?
A body of recent research suggests they are. A number of studies published over the last three years have found a steep decline in homophobic attitudes among both athletes and fans.
There’s no question that NBA player Jason Collins took a risk in telling the world, via this week’s Sports Illustrated, that he is gay. But that risk is far less than it would have been even a decade ago.
“Research on masculinities and homophobia today shows that, even in the traditionally conservative institution of sport, matters have shifted dramatically,” Eric Anderson of the University of Winchester wrote in the introduction to a 2011 edition of the Journal of Homosexuality, focusing on sports. “Today’s youth exist within a much-improved social and sporting landscape.”