Coming-out party | Will gay athletes follow Swoopes’s lead?

Sheryl SwoopesHouston | Sheryl Swoopes of the Women’s National Basketball Association’s Houston Comets has come out with pride as a gay woman. Her decision has given greater attention to the image consciousness and complicated gender politics in women’s sports, including women’s soccer.

“Do we market to [lesbians] or don’t we?” asks former Atlanta city council president Cathy Woolard, the first openly gay elected official in Georgia and a fan of women’s basketball. “If we don’t market to them, does it make them mad? It’s a convoluted, crazy thing.”

Dave Zirin writes in The Nation of the “muted response” to Swoopes’s disclosure, which Zirin says “flows from the sexist treatment of women’s athletics on sports pages.” He sees hope in Swoopes’s decision that gay, female African American athletes might find permission to love freely. “We should stop looking for the gay Jackie Robinson,” Zirin writes. “We have found her.”

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