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An enlightening read that scores high

As long as your team wins.

That’s all that matters, isn’t it – just that they win? You don’t care what they ate for breakfast. And, as in the new book Fair Play by Cyd Zeigler, you don’t care who they sleep with.

Less than a generation ago, if a professional athlete came out publicly as gay, it was cause for controversy (at best) and harassment (at worst), from the stands and from the locker room. In today’s arena, however, gay and lesbian athletes enjoy wider acceptance from fans and followers; sadly, the intolerance that formerly came from the bleachers can now just as easily come from behind the scenes.

It used to start early, but while there are still some problems with hazing in high school locker rooms, Zeigler indicates that many public schools are more inclusionary of gay athletes and staff than they’ve ever been.

Yet, times are changing, albeit gradually. Teammates and staff who voice homophobia might now receive punishment along with negative fan reaction. Mere humanity makes a difference, too. The biggest change, though, seems to come from fans, and from their quiet acknowledgement that a players’ sexuality doesn’t matter at all to an enjoyment of the game itself.

With bullying as such a hot topic in schools and media these days, it was only a matter of time (and it’s about time) that someone tackled the subject in context of the sporting world. Even so, I was rather disappointed to see that Fair Play, although its subtitle indicates that it’s about LGBT athletes, is more about gay males in sports. I suppose one could argue that most professional sports are male-dominated, but author Cyd Zeigler, though he admits his focal point, truly needed more about lesbians, and bisexual and transgender players. That slim coverage left me wanting.

Still, it’s hard not to be fascinated with what’s definitely not your usual game coverage. Zeigler is a nationally-known sports writer, and this book is filled with insider peeks, big-name examples, astonishing incidents, and up-and-comer encouragement – therefore, ultimately, what’s in this book overshadows what’s not, and it becomes something that I think will be enlightening for fans both straight and gay.

Fair Play: How LGBT Athletes are Claiming Their Rightful Place in Sports

by Cyd Zeigler

© 2016 Akashic Books


207 pages

Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=72824

Posted by on Aug 4, 2016. Filed under Bookwatch. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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