Bill Simmons Discusses Being ‘Out’ in the Sports World

Bill Simmons most recent podcast is a good one. Simmons had openly gay ESPN sports reporter LZ Granderson on to talk about longtime Boston Herald sports columnist Steve Buckley’s recent “coming out” column. Simmons says he expected more from Buckley’s piece.

“In 2011, is it too little to come out and write a column that says, ‘I’m gay?'”

Granderson disagreed: “I’m certain his words touched someone that needed to hear those words. It was evident during the discussion surrounding ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,’ we have a long way to go to discussing homosexuality in a rational way. So I’m happy he did it.”

Though Granderson has lived as an openly gay man for years–he was an out gay man before he was an out sports fan–he says, “I never wrote an ‘I am gay column.'” Though he certainly has covered gay issues in relation to sports, Granderson’s first column that addressed his own sexuality came after he was gay bashed at a party in New Orleans for the 2008 NBA All-Star Game. “My t-shirt didn’t reach my knees, so they thought it was too small,” Granderson says, of what started the incident. Eight to ten men then surrounded him, calling him “faggot,” until police broke up the scene.

This lead to a rather fascinating discussion of what it’s like to be gay in the world of big-time American sports. Granderson told Simmons at least one pro athlete in a “big three” sport–baseball, football, basketball–has come out to him in private, seeking advice. But to come out in the sports world is a scary–possibly dangerous–thing.

The discussion that follows is worth a listen.