UNITED KINGDOM – Diver Tom Daley has told how it was “love at first sight” when he met the man who now shares his life.
The Olympic medal-winning star, who revealed the relationship for the first time this week, also explained that keeping his sexuality under wraps had felt like “a dirty little secret”.
In an interview with ITV’s Jonathan Ross Show to be screened on Saturday, he explained how he had made the first move, even though he was not sure if his now-partner was even gay – and it was his first experience of love.
Daley, 19, announced he was in a relationship with a “a guy” by posting a message on YouTube on Monday. Although he has not confirmed the identity, he is said to be dating screenwriter and activist Dustin Lance Black, who is aged 39.
Speaking for the first time since since he went public, Daley told Ross: “It really was love at first sight, I’d never felt like anything like it before. We were at a party and I hadn’t even spoken to him all night.
“I didn’t know what to do or if he was gay at first. I made the first move, I typed ‘call me’ in his notes with a smiley face on this phone and the next day he texted.
“He makes me feel safe and happy, right now I couldn’t be happier.
“I’d never felt the feeling of love, it happened so quickly, I was completely overwhelmed by it to the point I can’t get him out of my head all the time. I’ve never had it before where I love someone and they love me just as much.
Daley – who was a mentor on ITV celebrity diving show Splash! earlier this year – said his new partner helped him rekindle his interest in training competitively once again.
“He saved me from not wanting to dive anymore. After the Olympics I was down in the dumps, as it’s such a hard way to get back into everything, but he gave me the extra motivation and made me work harder and that is exactly what I need.”
Daley said it was a tough decision to speak out about his private life, but he feels liberated by doing so and has been encouraged by the support he has received.
“It was a terrifying decision to make, I didn’t know what the reaction was going to be like, I didn’t know how it was going to go but I felt I needed to say something. I wanted to say something in my own words and from the heart, I didn’t know what else to do,” he said.
“Right now I couldn’t be happier, the support and reaction has been amazing, everyone has been so supportive and I just have to thank them.
“People ask why I had a girlfriend last year, well, it’s because I had a girlfriend last year. It wasn’t until spring this year that it came upon me, I didn’t expect this, it happened and everything clicked and felt right.”
In the programme to be screened at 10.45pm on Saturday, he explained: “It felt like a dirty little secret, it felt like I had chains wrapped around me, I couldn’t be who I was, I felt alone and trapped.
“Just telling one person made me feel so much better, just that one person took a weight off my shoulder. I told Sophie my best friend first as I knew she’d be really accepting of it. She’s been so supportive and there for me.
“Now that everyone knows, I have nothing to hide, those chains that I felt wrapped around me are gone and I can carry on with my life as normal and be happy.
Daley advised other people to confide in someone if they were unsure about their sexuality, and not feel alone he had done.
“I felt like there was something wrong with me, I didn’t know other people out there felt that way, I felt so alone, so locked away and couldn’t say anything.”
He encouraged others by saying: “Tell one person. Tell your story, how you feel.
“I’ve had people send some lovely Twitter messages with people telling me they’ve since come out to their parents, that they’ve had some hope, it shouldn’t matter who I’m dating in this day and age. Be who you want to be.”
The bronze medallist said his family had been concerned about the public reaction.
“My family will always want to look out for me and not want me to get hurt but they were worried what the reaction would be like in case people would be horrible to me in the streets,” Daley said.
“Now that it’s all happened they couldn’t be happier, the support of the public has been an added bonus, it makes me smile to think about it – my life at the moment is perfect.”
Daley told Ross he did not want to put a label on his sexuality.
“Everything is all pretty new so I don’t see any point in putting a label on it – gay, bi, straight, any of those kind of labels. All that I feel happy about at the moment is that I’m dating a guy and couldn’t be happier, it shouldn’t matter who I’m dating and I hope people can be happy for me.”
Looking ahead in his diving career, he said: “I’m training full time now and it’s always tough the first year after the Olympics. I’m working hard and want to be at the Commonwealth Games in the best shape I possibility can.
“My dream is to get an Olympic gold medal and I hope Rio 2016 will be my chance to do that. London 2012 was an amazing experience and so was Beijing but as a diver you normally peak between 22-24 and I’ll be 22 in Rio.”
He will return to Splash! in the New Year, which will feature Ross’s broadcaster brother Paul among the contestants.
He said: “He’s doing really well, he’s working on a little something special.”
from Bridport News
Archive for the ‘Gay Sports’ Category
UNITED KINGDOM – Diver Tom Daley has told how it was “love at first sight” when he met the man who now shares his life.
British Olympic diver Tom Daley has revealed he is in a gay relationship in a YouTube video.
The 19 year old, who won the Olympic bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games and is a double Commonwealth champion, has continually faced questions over his sexuality.
But Daley has taken to YouTube to clarify his sexuality and says he began a relationship with another man last spring.
“One thing that I have not felt comfortable about is my relationships,” Daley said. “Even when I’ve been doing sporting interviews I’ve been asked who am I seeing?
“Now I feel ready to talk about my relationships. In spring of this year my life changed when I met someone and made me feel so safe and happy and that someone is a guy. It took me by surprise. It was always in the back of my head that something like that could happen. But it just clicked in my head.
“Right now I’m dating a guy and I couldn’t be happier. It feels right and people are going to have their own opinions, is it a big deal? I don’t think so. People will call me a liar. I wanted to say something. I am ready and I wanted to do it.”
Daley becomes the latest high profile British sportsman to come out as homosexual but the trend is sparse among those still competing.
Fellow-divers Matthew Mitcham came out in 2008 while American Greg Louganis revealed he was gay in 1995 after his retirement from the sport.
Former Wales rugby international Gareth Thomas came out in 2009 and has since become a vocal supporter of the charity ChildLine.
from The International Business Times
BLOOMFIELD, CONNECTICUT – A 27-year-old Bloomfield man is dead, and an 18-year-old football star is now behind bars, accused of stabbing him several times.
Explosive information details in court documents show the two had been in a relationship in the past. The documents said the suspect was trying to move on, and the victim wouldn’t let it go.
Tarence Mitchell, Bloomfield High School’s football captain stood scared before a judge Friday, accused in the fatal stabbing of Ronald Taylor, Jr.
Police said Mitchell stabbed Taylor five times with a steak knife, and left the utensil in Taylor’s back before he managed to pull it out on his own and later dying from his injuries.
At first, investigators said Mitchell lied and said the two were attacked by two unidentified black men wearing hoodies. Mitchell later confessed to the crime, according to documents.
Taylor’s family is trying to stay strong.
“We’re really grieving over my cousin,” Jackie Harris said. “My aunt can’t even focus. He’s the baby out of three kids.”
“It’s indescribable and heartbreaking,” Mitchell’s mother, Tyra Smith said. “My son’s a good kid. He’s never been in trouble before. I send my deepest condolences to the victim’s family. My son’s not a murderer.”
Court papers revealed Mitchell admitted to police that Taylor gave him pot and alcohol over the past two years, and that they had a sexual relationship, but when Mitchell tried to end it at the end of last year, “Taylor posted a picture of him on Facebook that included a blog of bad things about him, including him being a Bloomfield gay football star,” the court documents said.
Mitchell also told investigators that Taylor threatened to report the photo, that Taylor would have outbursts and get jealous when he texted girls, and earlier this week even threatened him with a sword.
On Thursday, court documents said Taylor texted Mitchell inviting himself over, then announcing it wasn’t going to end well. Mitchell, police said, felt threatened and put a knife in his pants pocket so he could defend himself if Taylor did anything outrageous.
The documents said that after Taylor hit him in the face, he stabbed him three times in Taylor’s car before he started running and Mitchell chased him.
Mitchell’s uncle said he’s not violent and has never carried a weapon.
“It’s not in his nature,” Lajuane McCray said. “Something had to create this, intimidating, bullying, harassing and threatening. You never know when a person is going to hit their limit after being pushed around.”
Mitchell is being held on $1M bond.
The team had decided yes. The player had decided the same. It was set. It was going to happen. An NFL player was going to publicly say he was gay and then play in the NFL.
What happened before that moment showed how parts of the NFL are progressive and ready for change. Then, what happened next showed how the sport is still in some ways fearful of it.
The following account is based on interviews with approximately a dozen people, including team and league officials, current and former players, and gay-rights advocates. Some were directly involved with the discussions that nearly led to the first openly gay NFL player. Further illustrating the intense secrecy, delicacy and fear surrounding the subject, none of the principals wanted to be identified. They also refused to identify the team or the player.
It was early this past spring when a closeted gay player, who was a free agent, reached out to a small group of friends and told them about his sexual orientation. The friends, both current and former players, and others with NFL connections, then contacted a handful of teams to gauge their interest in the player and their comfort with that player talking openly about being gay if they signed him.
A number of teams contacted passed. The player was told they didn’t have a need at his position. The player told a recently retired player he believed the teams declined because they feared the attention a gay NFL player would receive from the public and media.
Yet some teams were interested, and one team actually said yes. It wasn’t a lukewarm yes or a conditional one. It was a definite yes.
The team expressed that it didn’t care if the player was gay and had no issue with him announcing he was gay after signing. The player expected the signing, and subsequent announcement, to happen in June. This would give the team, fans and media a month to adjust to the news before training camp began.
It was during these talks with the team, occurring in late March and early April, that reports surfaced about the possibility of an openly gay player emerging. In effect, word of the impending signing was leaking. I reported a player was strongly considering coming out. My reporting was based on speaking to several NFL players. Word of an openly gay player signing was spreading among a portion of the player base.
Gay-rights advocate and former Baltimore Raven Brendon Ayanbadejo said in April that he believed several gay players might come out. He later backed away from the number of players but stood by his statement that a gay player would soon emerge onto the NFL stage.
Some months later, it’s possible Ayanbadejo may have been right. The feeling now among team officials, as well as current and former players, is that there wasn’t just one gay player ready to shed his secret, but multiple ones.
“I don’t know how close we are,” Ayanbadejo said to Bleacher Report in regard to having an openly gay player. “I just know there are gays in the NFL but their identities remain confidential.”
The sources paint a remarkable picture. At least two or three gay players, each unaware of the other, living in different parts of the country, with different sets of friends and agents, each contemplating the same thing: coming out.
That period was, as one gay-rights advocate described it, “the spring of optimism for the NFL and gay rights.” There was a feeling that the NFL was on the verge of crossing this significant barrier. There was great excitement. It was going to happen.
Until it didn’t.
The question now is: What happened?
In considering possible answers, it’s important to know five things.
First: Estimates of how many gay players are in the NFL range widely, but some of them, from people intimately familiar with the league, are far higher than might be assumed by the outside public.
Players and team executives give totals ranging from several dozen to several hundred. (There are about 2,000 players in the league.) One former general manager said he believes the number of gay players is 30-40.
Second: The NFL and union know the identities of some gay players, according to many sources—a gay-rights advocate, a union official and a team official. The league and union learn who these players are from other players and coaches. They keep the identities of these players secret. In some cases, teams do so to protect the players. In many cases, teams learn the identities to avoid signing them as free agents.
Third: The league office backs the idea of an openly gay player, but one high-ranking league official believes the NFL isn’t yet ready for one. League executives think football is three to five years away from accepting such a player, according to an NFL source. The league plans to carefully and deliberately make the atmosphere more tolerant and comfortable in the meantime, setting the stage for when that happens.
The NFL actually wants an openly gay player because it would be one of the last barriers broken in the sport and show professional football as a tolerant sport. And not everyone thinks the league needs to wait. Another league-office executive said the NFL is ready now. “We are prepared,” he stated. “The league would give the player and his team all the support necessary.”
In response to this story the NFL issued a statement saying all players are protected by the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy. A manual given to every player during training camp includes language about violent or threatening behavior between employees inside and outside of the workplace. It includes documents relating to sexual harassment and sexual orientation.
Fourth: Some individual franchises, however, are not as enthusiastic about the prospect as the league office seems to be. Several team officials say the largest obstacle to an openly gay player is the resistance of a significant number of NFL owners and a smaller number of general managers and coaches.
In a very heartwarming e-mail, Matt Korman, a swimmer for the University of Texas, came out to his teammates after months of suffering from depression and considering quitting the sport.
“I was growing tired of all the lying, dishonesty, and pretending,” Korman told his team. “I want you to know me for who I am.”
And now, Korman doesn’t ever have to worry about pretending to be someone he is not.
While our state may not exactly be known for being a champion of equality and LGBT rights, the UT swim team is rallying around in support of their out teammate — including the guys from “the middle of nowhere conservative Texas.”
The last year has been a rather difficult one for me and I have spent a lot of time soul searching and trying to figure out which end is up. One thing in particular has taken me quite a long time to come to terms with, and I want to address it here and now because it’s way past due.
Within the past year, I have fallen into a state of depression, which has deeply affected my life. I have had a hard time sleeping at night, eating, and have lost a lot of interest in swimming. For the first time in my career, I was ready to quit swimming at the end of the summer. Not many people have noticed something has been wrong. The ones that did, I just blamed all the stress on my schoolwork, which has been my scapegoat. But, I miss sleeping at night; being happy and being the person I used to be when it didn’t really matter. Although this has been something I have known for a while, it hit me particularly hard more recently as I have realized that I’m not getting any younger and would like to start dating and enjoy the simple things of life that I have been missing out on. When I was younger I thought I was only curious or it was just a phase for me, but have come to terms that I’m actually gay. (There, I finally said it)
For a long time I tried to be someone that I am not. By opening up and talking about it I have learnt that this is normal and its okay to be who I am. I have accepted myself for who I am. There is nothing to be ashamed of. It is not something that I choose. It just is.
Please know that I am telling you this about myself because I love you guys and I really want you to know this important part of me. I was growing tired of all the lying, dishonesty, and pretending. You all have always been there for me and supported me in everything that I do. You are and forever will be my brothers. I simply couldn’t continue to hide this from you anymore because it was slowly killing me. I want you to know me for who I am. I pray that this will not change anything, but I know for some of you this is uneasy. I want you all to know that I am here to have an open dialogue. If you have questions or concerns please be honest with me as I am being with you. Do not hesitate to ask me questions if you have any (appropriate ones). I know this email has been a bit heavy and I apologize for that. All I can do is hope you will accept me for who I am and realize that I really haven’t changed. I am still the same me.
I love you guys & thank you for listening.
Outsports reports Korman wrote the coming out letter earlier this year. One of Korman’s teammates sent a message to the magazine with the news, saying the rest of the teammates have been very supportive of Korman and his decision to come out.
Korman told the team about his orientation after first doing some soul-searching and then telling his family. Korman said he wanted everyone else to know he was gay because he was tired of pretending to be someone he was not.
“I’ve been totally blessed by this whole situation because it’s gone so well,” Korman told Outsports. “I’ve gotten zero negative feedback. There were a couple guys who always throw around the word faggot and try to make every situation as masculine as possible. We have guys from the middle of nowhere conservative Texas. But they’ve been like, ‘we’re totally fine, you’re still my friend and my teammate and good for you.’”
The team looks forward to hosting the NCAA national championships in March.
Coming out is one of the most difficult and challenging experiences any person that is LGBT has to overcome in life. Congrats to Matt for finding the courage to come out and to the UT swim team for being another great example of LGBT acceptance in sports.
from Burnt Orange Report
The Cardinals have been outed.
Trouble-making fans — presumably from Boston — edited St. Louis’ Wikipedia page to describe the Cardinals as “a gay butt sex team based in St. Louis, Missouri,” on Monday.
Real mature, guys.
The description has since been returned to its original form, identifying the Cardinals as a “professional baseball team,” but, as of Monday afternoon, a Google search of the Cardinals returned a summary from the Wikipedia page, complete with the juvenile shot at the 19-time National League pennant winners.
Wikipedia allows open-source editing — meaning anyone can make an edit to any page — which allows for such childish contributions.
from The New York Daily News
Penn State University reached settlements over the past few months with what it calls 26 victims of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky — settlements that will cost the university a total of $59.7 million, the school announced Monday.
Of the 26 settlements, 23 are signed and three are agreed in principle, with final documentation expected within the next few weeks, the school said. The school also indicated a few other settlements still could come.
“There was no happiness,” said Tom Kline, the attorney for a man known as Victim 5 from Sandusky’s criminal trial. “For my client, there was relief.”
Sandusky was convicted in June 2012 of 45 counts relating to the sexual abuse of young boys.
He’s serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence. He has always maintained his innocence and has plans to appeal, his attorney has said.
In all, 32 men have come forward to Penn State with claims of abuse. Some of those were rejected for lack of merit, Penn State said.
“We hope this is another step forward in the healing process for those hurt by Mr. Sandusky, and another step forward for Penn State,” university President Rodney Erickson said in a statement. “We cannot undo what has been done, but we can and must do everything possible to learn from this and ensure it never happens again at Penn State.”
As part of the agreement, this settlement ends the civil litigation for these 26 men. Kline said these victims will not be able to sue anyone else, including Sandusky’s charity, The Second Mile, where prosecutors say he selected most of his victims.
However, Penn State can go after the charity to recoup some of its losses, Kline said.
Although the criminal trial involved only 10 victims, more allegations surfaced in the months that followed Sandusky’s November 2011 arrest. Abuse as far back as the 1970s has been reported to authorities.
Kline praised Penn State lawyers in regard to the settlement process, saying they worked methodically through each claim, making it possible to settle in just about 13 months.
Not all the settlements are equal of amounts, Kline said, but were evaluated separately based on when the abuse allegedly happened.
Prosecutors have said that Penn State officials — former President Graham Spanier, former Vice President Gary Schultz, and former Athletic Director Tim Curley — all knew about two allegations against Sandusky in 1998 and in 2001.
The 1998 incident was investigated and dismissed by prosecutors at the time, but the 2001 incident was never reported to police by university officials.
Victim 5 was abused six months after that 2001 incident, and so his settlement and others who say they were abused after 2001 had more negotiating power, Kline said.
Curley, Schultz, and Spanier are all facing trial this Spring on charges including perjury, conspiracy, obstruction, failure to report suspected abuse and endangering the welfare of children. They also maintain their innocence.
The scandal has so far cost Penn State university tens of millions of dollars, including a $60 million NCAA fine, and millions more in crisis management.
Known as much for his outrageous costumes and comments as his intriguing skating, Johnny Weir is leaving the ice for the broadcast booth.
He hopes to be just as offbeat and entertaining in his new career.
The three-time U.S. figure skating champion retired from competition Wednesday – he still plans to skate in shows – and will join NBC for its coverage of the Sochi Games.
“I am outlandish and flamboyant and all those things,” Weir said. “There was a focus on all that in my career, which I am fine with, but there also was a little attention paid to how hard I actually worked and how much went into it and how I came back so many times. Sweating every day for that one moment, and I wish people focused on that as much as my characters and my costumes. I wouldn’t be Johnny Weir if I wasn’t giving everything all the time.
“Hopefully, I can use my words properly and talk intelligently. I’m excited for the journey.”
Weir spent 16 years in the sport, going to two Olympics. Weir won the 2004, ’05 and ’06 U.S. titles and finished fifth at the 2006 Games and sixth in 2010.
He will begin his broadcasting career Sunday during the network’s coverage of Skate Canada.
Joining Weir on NBC’s team for Sochi will be 1998 gold medalist Tara Lipinski, the youngest Olympic figure skating champion when she won in Nagano at age 15, and 2006 silver medalist Tanith Belbin. With ice dance partner Ben Agosto, Belbin came in second at the Turin Olympics.
The Sochi Games begin Feb. 6.
Weir said he was inspired to become a figure skater by watching the great Russians perform on the world and Olympic stage. He was coached to much of his competitive success by Soviet-trained Galina Zmievskaya. He is married to a Russian, Victor Voronov.
So taking part in a Russian Olympics was his goal before hanging up his skates competitively. But when Weir realized he was not fit enough to attempt another comeback, he turned to other avenues to stay close to figure skating.
NBC readily obliged, knowing it would get, well, everything Weir is known for.
“I definitely do not regret it,” Weir said. “The goal was I would compete in Sochi and come full circle. It would have been very storybook.
“I have always cheered for all Russian skaters and I will cheer for all Russians when I am there in Sochi. I’m sad I can’t compete, but I can be there and be a part of the moments that will get created at this beautiful Olympics. That takes the edge off not competing, definitely. I can still lend my name and voice and talents to the Olympics, and I’m so honored and proud for, and so happy for, the opportunity.”
Weir has been outspoken about the treatment of gays in Russia, which he recently depicted as “heartbreaking” in an op-ed column in the Falls Church (Va.) News-Press. That’s one of many topics he might broach for NBC.
He added he wants to be a teacher of the sport on the air, hoping to inspire youngsters to become skaters.
And he wants to be remembered as someone who had an impact in figure skating.
“As a competitive figure skater and as an entertainer, I roll them into one,” he said. “Remembered for never conforming even though I was told to, and for my own trials and tribulations. For the years of fabulous skating.
“To be remembered is what we all want. I made my mark in my sport. I didn’t know where I was going, but I knew there would be some sort of magic in my life. I want to be remembered for creating that magic for the people who watched me.”
from The Associated Press
LAS VEGAS – Gay boxer Orlando Cruz lost his bid for a piece of the featherweight title Saturday night, getting stopped in the seventh round by veteran Orlando Salido.
Cruz, the first openly gay active fighter, was outclassed much of the fight by Salido, who landed the heavier punches throughout before knocking Cruz down with a right hand to the head in the seventh. Cruz was on his knees and couldn’t get up as he was counted out at 1:05 of the round.
“I went into the corner and he hit me with a good shot,” Cruz said. “I thought the fight was close up until then.”
Salido, who lost the 126-pound title in his last fight, won it back with an impressive performance against Cruz, a former Olympian from Puerto Rico who last year came out as gay. He took the fight to Cruz and was ahead 59-55 on two scorecards and 58-56 on a third going into the seventh round.
“This is the biggest moment of my life,” Salido said. “I won a world title for the fourth time.”
Cruz was greeted by a mixture of boos and whistles coming into the ring, with the pro-Mexican crowd that came to cheer on Juan Manuel Marquez against Timothy Bradley in the main event clearly in the corner of Salido, who is from Mexico. He was accompanied by a man waving a flag in rainbow colors, and fought in trunks with rainbow colors modeled after the Puerto Rican flag.
It was the first title fight for Cruz in a 13-year professional career in which he has had mixed success. He fell to 20-3-1 with the loss.
“This is my moment, my time,” Cruz said before the fight, clearly relishing his moment in the limelight.
It turned out it wasn’t his fight, though, with Salido showing off his ring skills and handling most of what Cruz threw at him. Cruz landed few big punches, though he used his southpaw style to box effectively at times from the outside.
In another fight, two-time Olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko was successful in his official pro debut, stopping Jose Luis Ramirez in the fourth round of their scheduled 10-round bout.
Lomachenko, who won gold medals for Ukraine in 2008 and 2012, hit Ramirez with a left to the body that put him on the canvas, where he was counted out.
Lomachenko, who claims an amateur record of 396-1, took the unusual step of fighting a boxer in his 29th bout in his debut for promoter Bob Arum. Lomachenko had previously fought six fights for the Ukraine team in the World Series of Boxing, but had no official professional record.
“I was happy with my performance but I can do better,” Lomachenko said.
Arum said before the fight that Lomachenko could fight the winner of Salido-Cruz in January for the 126-pound title.
from The Associated Press
Puerto Rico Gay Boxer Orlando Cruz To Marry
Cruz wins First Fight Since Announcing He’s Gay
Orlando Cruz Becomes Boxing’s First Openly Gay Man
Since making the announcement last spring that he is a gay professional basketball player, Jason Collins has been widely praised, received much support and made many new friends. But with training camp for a new season under way, he has been waiting for a call from an N.B.A. team. Any N.B.A. team.
When Collins, 34, a 7-foot center, wrote his coming-out cover story for Sports Illustrated — “my declaration,” he said — he proudly spoke of having been called a pro’s pro for his team-first, lunch-pail style. Never a star, he has nonetheless had a career spanning 12 years and 6 teams after four years at Stanford, where he played with his twin, Jarron.
“That’s how I still consider myself,” he said Wednesday in his first interview since N.B.A. training camps opened last month without his participation. “Sure, I’ve picked up another title. But I feel that’s always who I’m going to be — that person who sets a good example, who represents the sport and is an asset to my team and a role model for other players.”
The question Collins has to ponder is why he has not been signed as a free agent. Is it because he is at best a marginal player with modest career statistics (3.6 points and 3.8 rebounds a game) nearing the end of his career, one who would cost more than a younger player based on the league’s collectively bargained pay scale? Or is there something more sinister at work related to the new role he would play?
Collins did not dismiss the latter notion or address it.
“You don’t want to speculate — I don’t go there,” he said while picking at a bowl of greens in a cafe in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, near where he lives. But while conceding he would be at the lower end of a team’s depth chart at this stage of his career, he admitted being perplexed because, he said, “I feel there are players in the league right now that, quite frankly, I’m better than.”
As teams firmed up their rosters in late summer, Collins’s agent, Arn Tellem, received inquiries from at least three teams in the market for a reserve big man who understood positional defense. One of them, the Detroit Pistons, settled on Josh Harrellson, a third-year player who cost the Pistons more than $500,000 less than the nearly $1.4 million Collins would have earned — the minimum salary for a player with his experience.
Several league executives said the number of teams interested in Collins had shrunk because of new penalties for teams exceeding the luxury tax threshold.
Brooklyn was thought to be a potential landing site because Collins spent roughly half his career with the Nets when they played in New Jersey, where he was a trusted teammate of Jason Kidd, now the team’s coach. But with the Nets’ soaring payroll, Collins would have cost the team almost four times his salary in taxes.
Collins acknowledged that signing younger players would be more prudent financially, but he asked how experience could be discounted in such a competitive sport.
“In my mind it shouldn’t be about that,” he said, referring to minimizing costs. “The N.B.A. is for the best players, not for the most affordable players. There isn’t a professional athlete that doesn’t want to play 12, 13 years. What I did when I was younger was look up to the guys like Dikembe Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning who played over a decade. What did they do to last that long? A lot of it is keeping your body in shape, keeping your mind sharp, staying hungry. You should always want guys around like that to set that example, in my mind.”
David Stern, the N.B.A.’s commissioner, and Adam Silver, who will replace Stern in February, would not comment on Collins, other than to say that the league had been in close contact with Tellem and that they were satisfied that teams were making only basketball-related decisions. But one team’s general manager, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that “some teams just might not want to deal with it because of the media implications.”
The issue of what might be a challenge for an individual team versus what is best for the league’s overall image figured to be a thorny one for the N.B.A. from the moment Collins publicly declared his intention to be the first openly gay man playing a major American team sport. (Robbie Rogers of Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy has since filled the breach.)
The N.B.A. has long prided itself on being as socially progressive as it is diverse, and many supporters of gay rights — along with many high-profile players — cheered Collins’s announcement.
Richard Lapchick, a human-rights activist and sports industry watchdog, said at the time: “I do think it’s important for him to be in the league as a visible symbol. If he makes this courageous stand but then disappears from the locker room, it would not do it justice.”
But the combination of Collins’s age and the financial complexities are impossible to ignore. Recently, Lapchick said: “In all my work on hiring practices, I always argue to bring a diverse pool into the interview process and then hire the best person. I am rooting hard for Jason to play this year, but I want him to make it on his own — for his sake and for the sake of the issue.”
Another advocate for gay athletes, Hudson Taylor, the executive director of Athlete Ally, wrote in an e-mail: “The decision to sign him rests with individual team owners. One of them has to step up.”
Doc Rivers, who coached Collins for part of last season in Boston and is now the coach and chief basketball executive of the Los Angeles Clippers, said he would have no problem being the one.
“Let me put it this way: if one of my bigs goes down and he’s not signed, I’m signing him,” Rivers said. “I’m not signing him because he’s gay. I’m not signing him because it’s a story and it brings us attention. I’m signing him because he has a value to help us win. I do have the advantage that I coached him, and I know what type of guy he is, how tough he is.”
Over the grueling N.B.A. season, players are invariably injured. Smart, experienced big men are not easy to replace. Collins nodded at the mention of Kenyon Martin, a brawny veteran who was unsigned for much of last season before playing a significant role last spring for the Knicks.
“This is not an unprecedented situation, as far as being a veteran and not joining a team until later in the season,” Collins said. “So there are a lot of ways that this can play out.”
In the meantime, Collins works out six days a week, taking Sundays off. He runs on hills, treadmills and tracks. He does yoga. He shoots around. He enjoys living in Los Angeles, where he grew up and where Jarron works for the Clippers. With Bill Bean, a former baseball player who is gay, Collins threw out the first pitch at a Dodgers game in late September.
In conversation, he laughs easily but steadfastly says he is ready for whatever slings, arrows and elbows the game might throw at him.
He welcomes the many people who approach him — far more than before his announcement, he said — to wish him well and share their own coming-out stories.
Some of his new acquaintances are those he has long and secretly admired, like tennis’s Martina Navratilova, a champion of L.G.B.T. rights. Communicating by e-mail, she has told him he should understand that his actions will have lasting impacts on people he may never meet.
This week, he met David Kopay, a former N.F.L. player and one of the first professional athletes to come out. He has befriended Rogers, whom he has watched play for the Galaxy. And he believes that even if he never plays another N.B.A. game, he will have had a lasting impact on the league’s social conscience.
Collins noted that when Indiana center Roy Hibbert made a homophobic remark to the news media last spring, he was immediately fined $75,000. “It was language that in the past might have gone unnoticed,” Collins said. “Now everyone knows.”
He added: “With regard to social progress, I know what David Stern and Adam Silver want as far as changing the culture of sport. I think they know that everyone looks to the N.B.A., and they’ve done an excellent job.”
Now all Collins wants is a job that allows him to suit up again, to blend his new normal with an old routine. Having declared who exactly he is, he just wants to be who he was.
“I love puzzles, challenges, the feeling that you get when you have an obstacle and go through adversity, finding the strength to go on,” he said. “As an athlete, that all makes sense to me. I do have that feeling now that I’m not alone in this and I have that mind-set, you know, of ‘bring it on.’ ”
Asked if he would consider playing abroad, he said, firmly: “I’m an N.B.A. player. I want to play in the N.B.A. I just have to stay in this mode of handling this test, of having patience. You know, I have faced worse in my life.”
from The New York Times
Jason Collins Denies He Is Seeking Book Deal
Ex-Fiancee Of Jason Collins Didn’t Realize He Was Gay
NBA Center Jason Collins Comes Out
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – NASCAR fined Nelson Piquet Jr. $10,000 on Tuesday and ordered him to attend sensitivity training for using an anti-gay slur on social media.
The Nationwide Series driver posted the remark on Instagram Sept. 25 in a post that has since been deleted.
“Nelson Piquet Jr. recently communicated an offensive and derogatory term that cannot be tolerated in our sport,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations. O’Donnell added the 2013 code of conduct clearly defines NASCAR’s position “regarding the use of disparaging terms. We expect our entire industry to abide by this Code.”
Piquet apologized in a statement.
“I sincerely apologize to everyone for my poor choice of words last week. I did not mean to hurt or offend anyone,” the Brazilian said in a statement.
“This has been a cultural learning experience that will make me a more sensitive person moving forward.”
Turner Scott Motorsports said in a statement it had addressed the issue with Piquet, who understood the team does not tolerate such remarks.
“TSM expects those associated with the team to uphold professional standards that we can all be proud of,” TSM said in a statement. “Nelson has assured the team that he has learned his lesson and he knows what it means to represent TSM.”
Earlier this year, NASCAR suspended Nationwide Series driver Jeremy Clements for two weeks for using a racial slur. Clements made the remark to a blogger for MTV News during an interview at Daytona. NASCAR learned of the comment from a witness, suspended Clements indefinitely and also ordered him to see a sports diversity expert.
Meanwhile, NASCAR also on Tuesday penalized Penske Racing because Joey Logano’s race-winning Nationwide car at Dover failed post-race inspection on Saturday.
Crew chief Jeremy Bullins was fined $10,000 and team owner Roger Penske docked six championship car owner points because the front of the car was too low.
Penske Racing said in a statement the car failed inspection because a spring retaining screw came unscrewed.
“The problem is being addressed internally to prevent it from happening again and the team is not planning to appeal the penalty,” the statement said.
from The Associated Press
SOCHI, RUSSIA – The International Olympic Committee has dismissed concerns over Russia’s law banning gay propaganda, saying it doesn’t violate the Olympic charter’s anti-discrimination clause, and pronounced Russia ready to host the 2014 Winter Games.
Jean-Claude Killy, chairman of the IOC Coordination Commission, gave his stamp of approval during a news conference Thursday at the conclusion of the commission’s 10th and final visit to Sochi before the games, which begin on Feb. 7.
Russia has come under scrutiny as the next host of the Olympics because of the law passed this summer outlawing “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors,” which many worry may apply to gay athletes and visitors to the games.
Killy said the commission deliberated for several days and concluded “the IOC doesn’t have the right to discuss the laws that are in place in the country hosting the games, so unless the charter is violated we are fully satisfied.”
Russian officials insist the law is designed to protect children and doesn’t infringe on the rights of gays.
“Regarding this law, if people of traditional sexual orientation spread propaganda of non-traditional sex to children, then they will also be held accountable,” said Dmitry Kozak, a deputy prime minister in charge of overseeing preparations for the Sochi Olympics. “So there is simply no need to talk about discrimination.”
The Human Rights Campaign, the largest gay rights organization in the U.S., condemned the IOC’s assessment of the Russian law.
“If this law doesn’t violate the IOC’s charter, then the charter is completely meaningless,” HRC president Chad Griffin said in a statement. “The safety of millions of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) Russians and international travelers is at risk, and by all accounts the IOC has completed neglected its responsibility to Olympic athletes, sponsors and fans from around the world.”
He noted that Killy spoke a day after gay rights activists were arrested outside the Moscow headquarters of the Sochi Olympics organizing committee for protesting the law.
President Vladimir Putin signed the ban on propaganda into law in late June. In August, he signed an additional decree banning all demonstrations and rallies in Sochi for two and a half months around the time of the games, a measure seen as intended to thwart protests by gay rights activists.
Killy said the IOC commission was pleased with the ongoing construction ahead of the games, which with a total cost of $51 billion will be the most expensive Olympics in history.
Much of the city still looks like an enormous building site, with unfinished hotels and debris from construction scattered across the Black Sea coast, but the Olympic venues are impressive.
The coastal venues, where the skating events will take place, are sprawled like beached metallic whales across what used to be a residential coastline. The structures themselves are both sleekly elegant and intimate, providing for a close proximity between athletes and spectators.
The mountain venues, about an hour by car or train from the coast, are similarly spectacular. A network of gondolas, like pulsing veins up the mountainside, whisk visitors up to 2,320 meters (7,650 feet), while the smooth wood of the bobsleigh track zigzags across the lush forest. A blizzard on Wednesday coated the mountain peaks in snow, helping to ease worries of a repeat of last year’s warm winter.
The IOC visit coincided with major storms, unusual for Sochi in September. Down the mountain, heavy rain caused flooding and mudslides, leading authorities to introduce a state of emergency.
Killy said that despite the rainfall there had been “no damage anywhere whatsoever” and he was confident that any weather problems “would not stop the games.”
He recalled the IOC commission’s first visit in September 2011 and the “unprecedented challenge” Russia faced to put in the necessary infrastructure and build most of the venues from scratch.
“In Europe you would probably spend 15 years on that, and here they did it in seven,” Killy said. Russia was awarded the 2014 Olympics in 2007.
Kozak asserted that only $7 billion had been spent on the venues themselves, whereas the remaining sum went toward “developing the city and the region” along the Black Sea.
from The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Dodgers will host their first lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender night on Sept. 27.
The team said Friday that LGBT Night Out will feature a celebrity first pitch, the national anthem performed by a special guest with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles and fireworks at Dodger Stadium for the game against Colorado.
Other major league teams have hosted similar events.
The Dodgers are partnering with Tom Whitman of Flip Events for the event. He said the Dodgers “have been standing on the right side of history from the days of Jackie Robinson through today.”
Every season, the Dodgers honor various groups with special recognition and festivities.
from The Associated Press
Olympic diving hunk Tom Daley insists he is NOT gay – and says he doesn’t care if people think he is.
“I think it’s funny when people say I’m gay… I laugh it off,” says Tom, who was voted the world’s sexiest man by iconic gay magazine Attitude last week.
“I’m not. But even if I was, I wouldn’t be ashamed. It wouldn’t bother me in the slightest what people thought.
“But I can understand why I have a massive gay following – I spend most of my life half naked in trunks on a diving board showing off my bare chest.
“I often joke I wear more to bed than I do to work. But I’m cool with my gay following. It’s great to have gay fans even though my friends gently take the mick.”
Tom, 19, says he doesn’t think of himself as a pin-up, even though his six pack and trademark skimpy speedos have gained him an army of fans. He reckons he’s too busy concentrating on what matters to him most.
“I just think about my diving,” he says. “If people think I am gay or that I don’t focus on my diving enough and go out too much, there is always going to be an opinion – and if I worry about that too much, then my diving goes downhill.”
And when it’s not men ogling Tom, there are plenty of female fans fawning over the hot young star.
“After the Olympics, the attention I received from girls was really noticeable although I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it,” he grins. “No girl has asked me to sign her breasts – but when I was in Mexico I remember some girls going crazy and jumping on the car I was in, kissing all the windows until they were covered in lipstick.”
Wherever he is, there tends to be plenty of followers. “At the World Championships in Edinburgh girls camped outside my hotel and in Adelaide at the Junior World Championships, there were girls chanting my name,” says Tom.
“But it is bizarre when girls scream in my face. It’s the less attractive ones that always seem to come up to me.
“Then you get girls who talk to you as if they are your friend. And some girls make eye contact and then awkwardly walk off.
“I’ve had the usual marriage proposals. I get a lot on Twitter and girls send me love letters.”
Tom reveals he’d love to have a girlfriend, but is single at the moment. “I was seeing a synchronised swimmer before the Olympics but she lived in Bristol and I wasn’t driving so we couldn’t meet up,” he says.
“I have a soft spot for American diver Kassidy Cook but she lives in Texas – the long distance would be hard.
“I wish I had time to meet a girl. I thought after the Olympics I would have loads more time but that hasn’t been the case.”
He knows what he wants when he does find one. “I have to meet someone I can trust,” he says.
“I have never had a serious relationship. It has never worked with diving.
“It’s a priority to me and if someone doesn’t understand that’s fine. But then they’re not the person for me.”
from The Mirror
SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA — Once Simon Thibodeau convinced himself that it was all right to be gay, and then to be open about it in front of others, he gathered his women’s tennis team in May at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The dozen players in the room wondered why their head coach was so nervous.
“I’m gay,” he finally said.
There was awkward silence, mostly stemming from surprise. One player applauded. The rest smiled, shrugged and wondered about the summer schedule.
“No one thought it was a big deal,” said Erica Cano, captain of last year’s team and now an assistant coach. “All this big buildup, then: ‘Oh. O.K.’ ”
To Thibodeau’s college players, perhaps, it was not a big deal. But to him, it was a life-altering moment after years of inner turmoil. And to those in college coaching and tennis, Thibodeau’s public pronouncement of homosexuality promises to make him an unassuming pioneer.
“It feels so free,” Thibodeau said. “I’m not hiding anymore. If you ask, I’ll tell.”
Among thousands of N.C.A.A. Division I head coaches in various sports, the list of publicly out coaches — male or female — is short. It includes the Portland State women’s basketball coach, Sherri Murrell; the Kennesaw State men’s (and former women’s) tennis coach, T. J. Greggs; and Kirk Walker, the longtime softball coach at Oregon State, now an assistant at U.C.L.A.
Colleges are often at the nexus of social change, including gay rights, but lag when it comes to the openness of gays in coaching. The reasons are nebulous and vast, including fears about the effects on recruiting, worries over job security and a reluctance to create a public-relations nuisance for the college’s administration.
“Coaches have had a good response when coming out,” said Pat Griffin, author of “Strong Women, Deep Closets: Lesbians and Homophobia in Sport” and professor emerita at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. “It makes me wonder if the fear is bigger than the reality.”
That is the belief of Walker, considered the first openly gay male Division I coach when he came out to his Oregon State softball team in 2005 and to the Web site Outsports.com in 2007. He estimated that he knew 100 head coaches and assistant coaches in college softball who were gay. In all sports, he said, there are probably hundreds of gay coaches, a guess educated by how often he hears from some of them.
“All the time,” Walker said. “Every day.”
Walker understands their reluctance for acknowledging their sexuality publicly — “There are a lot of external reasons why it’s easier not to rock the boat and to compartmentalize your personal life,” he said — but it also frustrates him. Hiding such a big part of your life — your true self, he said — diminishes a coach’s impact as a role model.
“It’s a self-perpetuated homophobia that is being perpetuated, year in and year out, because coaches choose not to disrupt their lives,” Walker said.
Tennis, too, has invisible but sturdy barriers to gays, at least among men. On the top professional tour, there are no openly gay male players, just rumors — a surprising closet given the steadily rising acceptance of gays in other sports and across popular culture.
“I really don’t know why it is,” said Martina Navratilova, who came out as a player more than 30 years ago. “It won’t affect you financially, and nobody can keep you from playing, because it’s not a team sport.”
It all makes Thibodeau, 40, a successful college coach with deep ties in international tennis, a candidate to become a public spokesman for barrier breaking in sports and a private counselor to those struggling to make sense of their feelings.
Thibodeau is entering his second year at Santa Barbara after leading Fresno State to seven first-place finishes in nine years in the Western Athletic Conference, where he was a six-time coach of the year. His Fresno State teams had nine all-Americans and reached the N.C.A.A. tournament Round of 16 five times.
He has bigger expectations in Santa Barbara. Last year, with an inherited roster that finished below .500 the season before, he led the Gauchos to a 15-8 record and third place in the Big West Conference. The team’s No. 61 national ranking was its highest in 20 years, the university said.
There are still concerns about the impact his public revelation will have on the team’s momentum. Thibodeau’s success hinges on recruiting and fund-raising. He has spent much of his first year focused on grooming talent and meeting current and potential donors to the program — just as he has his whole career.
“With all those things, I never really ever knew where to put my private life,” he said.
Now, he will carry it with him, publicly.
“I don’t want to wear more masks,” he said. “It is a mask, I guess. I’m talking to someone, and they don’t really know who I am.”
Thibodeau told the university’s administration in the spring. Athletic Director Mark Massari was worried when he heard his new tennis coach wanted to see him.
“Oh, no,” Massari said he thought to himself. “Who’s recruiting him now?”