University of Michigan coach Charley Sullivan makes the case (in an OUTSports editorial) for closeted athletes and coaches to come out.
Sullivan is gay and OUT himself.
I firmly believe that athletes can only perform at their best when they are able to be themselves. Putting on acts – of pretending to be someone you’re not, of always being brave and never afraid, of not being devastated when your grandfather dies – simply takes too much energy. And acts have a reliable way of cracking under pressure. Teams that take the “military” approach to building team unity – the we-will-dress-alike-in-practice and we-will-all-have-the-same-basic-haircut and we-will-all-believe-in-the-same-God approach – are often basing their hopes for success on a set of external appearances that may or may not actually reflect what’s going on inside the team. The ties that a team needs when the going gets tough must be built of “realer” stuff than everyone having the same slogan on a T-shirt. It’s got to be about things like the desire for the group to succeed as a group, about mutual trust built through daily striving, and about a feeling of truly belonging to the team, no matter what.
TO THE CLOSETED COACHES:
And for me, I’m here, I’m queer and I’m a hell of a good coach for it. To other coaches, come on out and play, the weather can be just fine if you make it so and choose the right places to invest your energies. And you just may find yourself being a better and more fulfilled coach than you’ve ever imagined.