SAN JOSE, Calif.--()--NBC Bay Area, in partnership with Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, today announced that The Last Barrier, an in-depth one-hour special examining the personal issues, teammate and locker room acceptance, and team ownership and fan reaction that gay professional athletes face when contemplating coming out during their playing careers, will premiere on Saturday, December 8 at 3 PM PT.
“I’ve talked to two dozen NFL players over the last year and every single one of them not only expressed support for gay athletes but they talked about their gay brothers, sisters, cousins. This idea that the locker room is this horrible, homophobic place is just not true anymore.”
The Last Barrier preview video: http://bit.ly/UvihTD
Throughout the many generations and the tens of thousands of men to have played in the four major American sports leagues – MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL – not a single athlete has come out as gay during their playing days. The Last Barrier, hosted by Comcast SportsNet anchor Dave Feldman (@FeldyCSN), along with CSNBayArea.com’s Senior Insider Ray Ratto (@RattoCSN) and Comcast SportsNet’s MLB analyst Shooty Babitt and former teammate of Glenn Burke, the first openly gay MLB player to come out post-career, discuss and debate the potential for an active gay professional athlete to come out in the near future and whether locker rooms and society are ready for this historic moment.
The Last Barrier provides insightful commentary and interviews with Rick Welts, President and COO, Golden State Warriors; Chris Kluwe, Minnesota Vikings punter; Patrick Burke, co-founder of “You Can Play” and Philadelphia Flyers scout; Dave Kopay, former NFL player; Cyd Zeigler, Jr., co-founder of OutSports.com; and Amani Toomer, Bay Area native, former NFL player and NBC Sports NFL analyst.
After the December 8 debut on NBC Bay Area, The Last Barrier will re-air on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area on Monday, December 10 at 8:30 p.m., Thursday, December 13 at 7 p.m. and Monday, December 17 at 8:30 p.m.
Excerpts from The Last Barrier:
Rick Welts (Warriors President & COO):
On what’s keeping professional athletes from coming out: “I think we’re at a point of time in our society where I think it’s inevitable. That step will be taken. I think it’ll be ‘What took so long’ at that point. But it’ll be a tremendously courageous thing for a pro athlete, especially if they are at the peak of their career, to take that step.”
Chris Kluwe (Vikings punter):
On if an NFL locker room is ready for on openly gay player: “I think if someone were to come out as openly gay, it would be tough for them. But I think they would have a lot more support than they’d realize. Like I said, a lot of the younger generation coming up in the NFL realize it’s not about your sexuality; it’s not about who you want to marry. It’s about how can you help this team win on Sunday.”
Patrick Burke (Co-Founder of the ‘You Can Play’ and Flyers scout):
On when he expects to see an openly gay player in the NHL: “I think we’ll have an openly gay player in the next two years. I think the response ‘You Can Play’ has gotten from the players and the media proves to the closeted gay players that we know we have in the league, that our league is ready for it.”
Amani Toomer (NFL veteran and NBC Sports NFL analyst):
On whether the first NFL gay athlete to come out is a superstar versus a role player: “I think if it was a superstar player, people would be that much more accepting. If you’re a superstar player and you’re helping the team win, and you’re the face of the franchise, and you come out gay, I don’t think that would change your position at all. He’ll be the exact same person in terms of the players; you’ll be the exact same person in terms of the fans, because ultimately at the end of the day, all people want to see is their team win. I don’t think fans care about the sexual orientation of players, and I don’t think the players in the locker room care about sexual orientation. It’s all about winning.”
Cyd Ziegler, Jr., (Co-Founder of OutSports.com):
On the reaction of an active professional athlete coming out: “What’s amazing is how many people think it’s going to be hard for a professional athlete to come out of the closet. Every shred of evidence when we talk to the media and we talk to the fans, team executives, Fortune 500 companies, every single one of them says ‘I’m good with this.’ I think we’re going to look back a month after it happens and say ‘Wow, this is incredible, not what I expected.’”
On the myth straight athletes are homophobic: “I’ve talked to two dozen NFL players over the last year and every single one of them not only expressed support for gay athletes but they talked about their gay brothers, sisters, cousins. This idea that the locker room is this horrible, homophobic place is just not true anymore.”
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