LGBT in the Sports Word: NFL Seen as Toughest Sport to “Come Out” in

    New York , N.Y. – December 4, 2013 – The NFL has had more than its share of negative press this season. The league has been under fire for allegations of downplaying brain injury dangers for its players, and more recently has come under fire for at least one team allegedly tolerating bullying among its players. In addition to all this, a recent Harris Poll finds that Americans are most likely to identify the NFL (31%) as among the sports, leagues or organizations in which it would be hardest for a current athlete to come out as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,577 adults surveyed online between September 18 and 24, 2013 by Harris Interactive.

    The play-by-play: sports environments seen as toughest and easiest to come out in

    Eight in ten Americans (81%) agree that some sports would be more difficult to come out in than others. Looking at specific sports ecosystems perceived as being among the most difficult to come out in, NFL is followed by professional boxing (22%), WWE/professional wrestling (20%), mixed martial arts/UFC (18%) and NASCAR (15%).

    • Among Matures (those ages 68 and older), pro boxing narrowly edges out NFL (25% and 23%, respectively) as the toughest sports environment to come out in.
    • NASCAR rises to second among LGBT Americans, with this group nearly twice as likely select it as those not LGBT (26% and 15%, respectively).
    • Echo Boomers (ages 18-36) are considerably more likely to have a formed opinion on the subject, with all other generations roughly twice as likely to indicate being unsure (17% Echo Boomers, 31% Gen Xers, 33% Baby Boomers, 38% Matures).

    On the other hand, PGA/LPGA (pro golf) and ATP/WTA (pro tennis) are most often identified as being among the easiest to come out in (with 34% of Americans selecting each), followed by WNBA (24%).

    Nearly two-thirds of Americans (64%) feel that it’s more difficult to come out as LGBT for pro athletes in team sports than for those in individual or partnered sports, while six in ten (60%) believe that for athletes playing for a team with a home town, how hard it would be to come out would have more to do with that home town than the sport they play.

    Additionally, seven in ten Americans (70%) believe it’s easier for female pro athletes to come out than their male counterparts.

    On Russian Gay Propaganda law: it’s a mistake – but it’s their mistake to make

    At the time of the survey, over six in ten Americans (63%) had at least heard about the Russian gay propaganda law, which criminalizes demonstrations in favor of, speaking in defense of, or distributing materials related to gay rights, in some cases even prohibiting public displays of affection between two people of the same gender. Nearly four in ten Americans (38%) say they knew at least some details about the law prior to the survey, with Echo Boomers (44%) more likely than any other generation to know at least some details about the law (36% Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, 35% Matures).

    Three-fourths of Americans (74%) oppose the law, with nearly half of Americans (46%) voicing strong opposition to it; those with a pre-existing knowledge of the law are considerably more likely to strongly oppose the law (54%, vs. 34% among those without prior knowledge). However, while most U.S. adults stand in opposition to the law, nearly eight in ten Americans (78%) – including six in ten LGBT Americans (60%) – say that it doesn’t matter if an American agrees or disagrees with it, as the Russian government has the right to do what they wish with their own country.

    Despite strong opposition to the law, and in spite of indications that Olympians competing in Russia next February will be subject to the full weight of its regulations, six in ten Americans (59%) agree that the United States should send a team to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. Two in ten each disagree that the U.S. should send a team (20%) and are not at all sure (21%).

    • This is even true when looking only at those Americans openly opposed to the law, with 55% agreeing that the U.S. should send a team and 24% disagreeing.
    • Opinions are more divided among LGBT Americans, with 42% agreeing that the U.S. should send a team and 40% disagreeing.

    Names in the news

    Nearly half of Americans (48%) indicate having heard about NBA player Jason Collins coming out in April, while two in ten (20%) recall hearing about WWE wrestler Darren Young coming out in August. But perhaps the bigger news is the combined indifference with which these revelations have been met, as roughly two-thirds of those aware of each athlete coming out indicate that it makes no difference in how I seem him (67% Jason Collins, 64% Darren Young).

    Over four in ten (44%) of those Americans aware of Jason Collins coming out feel he is brave, while half (50%) of those aware of Darren Young’s admission say the same. What’s more, over four in ten of those aware of each athlete coming out indicate respecting the manner in which they chose to do so – this despite very different manners employed by the two men, one carefully planned and the other seemingly off the cuff.

    Few believe coming out will be either bad (12% Collins, 14% Young) or good (11% Collins, 14% Young) for either’s career.

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    TABLE 1

    SPORTS/LEAGUES PERCEIVED AS HARDEST TO COME OUT AS LGBT IN

    By Generation & Gender

    Now, thinking about sports that are popular in the U.S., in which of the following sports, leagues or organizations do you believe it would be hardest for a current athlete/participant to come out as lesbian, gay, bisexual or trandgender (LGBT)? You may choose up two.

    Base: U.S. adults

     

    Total

    Generation

    LGBT

    Echo Boomers (18-36)

    Gen X (37-48)

    Baby Boomers (49-67)

    Matures (68+)

    Yes

    No

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    NFL

    31

    43

    28

    26

    23

    34

    31

    Professional Boxing

    22

    17

    21

    24

    25

    23

    22

    WWE (Professional Wrestling)

    20

    19

    18

    21

    20

    20

    20

    Mixed Martial Arts/UFC

    18

    23

    21

    13

    14

    14

    19

    NASCAR (auto racing)

    15

    20

    13

    15

    9

    26

    15

    NHL

    12

    13

    11

    13

    12

    16

    12

    NBA

    7

    11

    6

    5

    3

    6

    7

    MLB

    5

    6

    5

    4

    4

    3

    5

    PGA/LPGA (Professional Golf)

    1

    1

    1

    2

    1

    1

    1

    WNBA

    1

    2

    1

    1

    1

     

    1

    MLS (Professional Soccer)

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    1

    ATP/WTA (Professional Tennis)

     

     

     

     

    1

     

    Other

    1

     

     

    1

    2

    1

    1

    Not sure

    29

    17

    31

    33

    38

    20

    29

    Note: Multiple responses allowed

    indicates percentage is <.05%

    -indicates percentage is 0%


    TABLE 2

    SPORTS/LEAGUES PERCEIVED AS EASIEST TO COME OUT AS LGBT IN

    By Generation & Gender

    And in which do you believe it would be easiest for a current athlete/participant to come out as LGBT? You may choose up two.

    Base: U.S. adults

     

    Total

    Generation

    LGBT

    Echo Boomers (18-36)

    Gen X (37-48)

    Baby Boomers (49-67)

    Matures (68+)

    Yes

    No

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    PGA/LPGA (Professional Golf)

    34

    33

    35

    37

    29

    36

    34

    ATP/WTA (Professional Tennis)

    34

    34

    37

    35

    27

    39

    34

    WNBA

    24

    37

    30

    16

    11

    28

    24

    MLS (Professional Soccer)

    7

    10

    4

    5

    7

    12

    6

    NASCAR (auto racing)

    6

    5

    3

    7

    11

    8

    6

    NBA

    6

    7

    7

    5

    7

    5

    6

    MLB

    4

    7

    3

    3

    4

    5

    4

    WWE (Professional Wrestling)

    4

    5

    3

    4

    2

    5

    4

    NFL

    3

    4

    2

    3

    4

    5

    3

    Mixed Martial Arts/UFC

    2

    4

    2

    2

    1

    5

    2

    NHL

    2

    4

    2

    2

    1

    3

    2

    Professional Boxing

    1

    1

     

    1

    1

    2

    1

    Other

    1

    2

     

    1

    2

    1

    1

    Not sure

    30

    18

    30

    34

    44

    17

    31

    Note: Multiple responses allowed

    indicates percentage is <.05%

    -indicates percentage is 0%


    TABLE 3

    KNEW ABOUT RUSSIAN GAY PROPAGANDA LAW PRIOR TO SURVEY

    By Generation & Gender

    As you may or may not be aware, Russia recently passed legislation criminalizing demonstrations in favor of gay rights, speaking in defense of gay rights, distributing material related to gay rights, stating that gay relationships are equal to heterosexual relationships or, in some cases, public displays of affection between two people of the same gender. This law also applies to foreigners visiting Russia. Prior to this survey, had you heard anything about this legislation?

    Base: U.S. adults

     

    Total

    Generation

    LGBT

    Echo Boomers (18-36)

    Gen X (37-48)

    Baby Boomers (49-67)

    Matures (68+)

    Yes

    No

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Had not heard anything about it

    37

    37

    42

    36

    33

    25

    38

    Had at least heard about it (NET)

    63

    63

    58

    64

    67

    75

    62

    Had heard about it but did not know any details

    25

    19

    22

    28

    32

    20

    25

    Knew at least some details (NET)

    38

    44

    36

    36

    35

    55

    37

    Knew some details about it

    28

    31

    26

    26

    29

    25

    29

    Knew a great deal about it

    10

    14

    10

    10

    5

    30

    8

    Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 4

    SUPPORT/OPPOSE RUSSIAN GAY PROPAGANDA LAW PRIOR TO SURVEY

    By Generation, Gender & Prior Awareness of Law

    Do you support or oppose this legislation in Russia?

    Base: U.S. adults

     

    Total

    Generation

    LGBT

    Aware of law prior to survey

    Echo Boomers (18-36)

    Gen X (37-48)

    Baby Boomers (49-67)

    Matures (68+)

    Yes

    No

    Yes

    No

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Support (NET)

    26

    27

    22

    27

    28

    12

    28

    22

    33

    Strongly support

    8

    6

    9

    10

    8

    3

    9

    7

    10

    Somewhat support

    18

    21

    13

    18

    20

    10

    19

    15

    22

    Oppose (NET)

    74

    73

    78

    73

    72

    88

    72

    78

    67

    Somewhat oppose

    27

    24

    31

    28

    25

    13

    28

    24

    33

    Strongly oppose

    46

    48

    47

    45

    47

    75

    44

    54

    34

    Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 5

    AGREE/DISAGREE THAT U.S. SHOULD SEND TEAM TO SOCHI GAMES IN RUSSIA

    By Generation, Gender, Prior Awareness of Law & Feelings Toward Law

    The U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), while condemning the new law, is still planning to send athletes to compete in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia next February, and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and USOC are both recommending that athletes adhere to the new law while competing in Sochi. Do you agree or disagree that the U.S. should send a team to the Sochi Games?

    Base: U.S. adults

     

    Total

    Generation

    LGBT

    Aware of law prior to survey

    Feelings toward law

    Echo Boomers (18-36)

    Gen X (37-48)

    Baby Boomers (49-67)

    Matures (68+)

    Yes

    No

    Yes

    No

    Oppose law

    Support law

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Agree (NET)

    59

    54

    50

    64

    70

    42

    61

    62

    53

    55

    69

    Strongly agree

    38

    33

    29

    42

    50

    22

    40

    41

    33

    33

    51

    Somewhat agree

    21

    20

    21

    22

    20

    20

    21

    22

    20

    22

    19

    Disagree (NET)

    20

    24

    27

    15

    15

    40

    18

    21

    18

    24

    9

    Somewhat disagree

    10

    11

    13

    7

    9

    18

    9

    11

    8

    11

    6

    Strongly disagree

    10

    12

    14

    8

    6

    22

    9

    10

    11

    13

    3

    Not at all sure

    21

    23

    23

    21

    15

    17

    21

    17

    29

    21

    22

    Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding


    TABLE 6a

    AGREE/DSAGREE WITH LGBT SPORTS STATEMENTS

    Summary Grid

    How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

    Base: U.S. Adults

     

    AGREE (NET)

    Strongly agree

    Somewhat agree

    DISAGREE (NET)

    Somewhat disagree

    Strongly disagree

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Some sports would be more difficult to come out in than others

    81

    33

    47

    19

    12

    7

    It doesn’t matter if an American agrees or disagrees with the Russian law; the Russian government has the right to do what they wish in their own country

    78

    37

    41

    22

    14

    8

    It is easier to come out as LGBT as a professional female athlete than as a professional male athlete

    70

    26

    44

    30

    21

    9

    It is more difficult to come out as LGBT in for a professional athlete in a team sport than one in an individual or partnered sport

    64

    20

    44

    36

    27

    9

    For athletes playing for a team with a home town, how hard it would be to come out as LGBT would have more to do with the home town than the sport

    60

    11

    49

    40

    30

    10

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding


    TABLE 6b

    AGREE WITH LGBT SPORTS STATEMENTS

    Agree (NET) Summary – By Generation & Gender

    How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

    Base: U.S. adults

     

    Total

    Generation

    LGBT

    Echo Boomers (18-36)

    Gen X (37-48)

    Baby Boomers (49-67)

    Matures (68+)

    Yes

    No

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Some sports would be more difficult to come out in than others

    81

    85

    78

    79

    79

    82

    81

    It doesn’t matter if an American agrees or disagrees with the Russian law; the Russian government has the right to do what they wish in their own country

    78

    74

    73

    82

    84

    60

    80

    It is easier to come out as LGBT as a professional female athlete than as a professional male athlete

    70

    75

    73

    67

    61

    73

    70

    It is more difficult to come out as LGBT in for a professional athlete in a team sport than one in an individual or partnered sport

    64

    60

    61

    68

    64

    68

    64

    For athletes playing for a team with a home town, how hard it would be to come out as LGBT would have more to do with the home town than the sport

    60

    54

    55

    65

    69

    60

    60


    TABLE 7

    HAVE HEARD ABOUT JASON COLLINS AND/OR DARREN YOUNG COMING OUT AS GAY

    By Generation & Gender

    On another topic, please indicate which of the following, if any, you have heard about. Please select all that apply.

    Base: U.S. adults

     

    Total

    Generation

    LGBT

    Echo Boomers (18-36)

    Gen X (37-48)

    Baby Boomers (49-67)

    Matures (68+)

    Yes

    No

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    NBA player Jason Collins coming out as a gay man last April

    48

    54

    51

    46

    34

    54

    48

    WWE wrestler Darren Young coming out as a gay man last month (August)

    20

    25

    28

    17

    8

    26

    20

    Was not aware of either of these

    48

    39

    45

    52

    64

    40

    49

    Note: Responses may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 8

    FEELINGS TOWARD JASON COLLINS AND/OR DARREN YOUNG

    By Awareness of Each Coming Out as Gay

    Which of these words or statements would you select to describe your feelings toward [INSERT]? Please select all that apply.

    Base: Aware of athlete coming out

     

    Feelings toward Jason Collins

    [Among those aware he came out]

    Feelings toward Darren Young

    [Among those aware he came out]

    [Among those aware of both athletes coming out as gay]

    Feelings toward Jason Collins

    Feelings toward Darren Young

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Makes no difference in how I see him

    67

    64

    67

    67

    Brave

    44

    50

    47

    50

    I respect the manner in which he chose to come out

    41

    42

    46

    45

    Attention-seeking

    15

    14

    19

    14

    I think this will be bad for his career

    12

    14

    9

    13

    I think this will be good for his career

    11

    14

    14

    14

    None of these statements describe my feelings

    10

    12

    12

    12

    Note: Multiple responses allowed

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between September 18 and 24, 2013 among 2,577 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

    All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

    Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

    These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

    The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

    Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

    The Harris Poll® #92, December 4, 2013

    By Larry Shannon-Missal, Harris Poll Research Manager

    About Harris Interactive

    Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for The Harris Poll® Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research across a wide range of industries. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing a client’s research investment. Serving clients worldwide through our North American and European offices, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help our clients stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.