After basketball star Jason Collins’ coming out earlier this year, it seemed as if American professional football players were among the most accepting, and according to a new study by Dr. Steven Roberts and Professor Eric Anderson in the UK, that sentiment doesn’t just apply to America.
In the study, published late last month, the two researchers claim there is a “general shift in attitudes” toward gay footballers, and that of 22 Premier League academy footballers aged 16-18 interviewed, every last one said they would openly accept a teammate coming out.
All participants in the study identified themselves as heterosexual and from lower to upper working class backgrounds. “These men showed no overt animosity toward gay men,” said Dr. Roberts of the University of Kent’s School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research. “In fact, they were more than tolerant and showed an inclusive attitude toward the hypothetical situation of having a gay teammate, best friend or roommate reveal their sexuality.”
That’s great news! In fact, it shows a “marked shift in perception” from a study previously conducted by Professor Eric Anderson in 2002, which showed gay male athletes were tolerated by teammates “as long as they played the sport well.”
Research or not, it all appears to come back to the locker room. It was a hot-button issue in America after a rumored mass NFL outing, and Anderson concludes that “attitudes in the locker room among young British players would lay the foundation for a player to be able to come out.”