Skip to content

How to Cover Athletes (or any public figure) that may be gay

by on December 7, 2016

In our Sports Journalism class, we had to dive in to different ethical situations when covering sports, and I thought I could carry that conversation into this blog.

In today’s world, the idea that a professional athlete is or might be gay is big news. I personally wish it wasn’t, I really don’t think sexual orientation matters when discussing a player and his on-field accomplishments but I understand why it is reported on in the way that it is. The lack of publicly gay players means that the media and the world are eager to report on anyone that is.

The question I want to pose to this blog, just like I did to my Sports Journalism class, is what do you do in regards to covering speculation that an athlete might be gay?

I recently heard about how Skip Bayless had wondered aloud in his book if Troy Aikman was gay, according to rumors he heard.

You just have to wonder if discussing rumors about such a sensitive topic are worth it as a journalist. Does the public really need to know this information? This surely isn’t minimizing harm to the individual very much.

I guess it could also depend on whether or not a certain issue comes to light that affects the public figures performance in his/her position.

What if it’s just a scandal, but nothing more?  In this case, a married politician is outed as gay when a sexting scandal with a 17 year old boy come to light. Is this something that really needs to be reported? It’s news, sure, but is it fair to the family and this individual for a story like this to pick up steam and continue to be reported on?

I’m interested to hear what other people think of this broad topic and the different ethical dilemmas journalists face in reporting news like this.

Advertisements

From → Uncategorized

3 Comments
  1. When reporting on an athlete’s sexual orientation it is important to cause as little damage as possible. Some athletes may fear that being gay will impact how other players in the locker room look at them or just feel uncomfortable. This is a very personal information that the player may feel attacked if they are just outed by a reporter. To me, the only way to report on this is if the player makes the conscious decision to release this information to you or the public. Although they are athletes and we may think they work for us they have a right to privacy just like everyone else, and if they don’t want to share their sexual orientation they shouldn’t have to.

    In the case of the politician, it’s important to note that it was believed to be a 17-year-old boy. This is what makes it news, that a politician was sexting with a minor. Once again, when reporting it is important to minimize harm and as a journalist, if you hear this story it is your job to find as many sources as possible. The damage done my misreporting this story can ruin the politician’s career as well has his family life. In regards to politicians, they are public officials so they have sacrificed some of their private life but false reporting is inexcusable. The public does deserve to know if their elected official is an immoral person, but fake news stories destroy journalists’ reputation. I believe that if this example were actually true then it 100% deserves to be news.

  2. I think when covering rumors over a person whether it be a celebrity or a politician it isn’t really necessary and its rather inappropriate. If a person wants to come out about their sexuality they will on their own time, going in and researching into someones private life is inappropriate, in my opinion its like asking a straight person to reveal the details of who they sleep with and what they do with there partners, which is not anyone’s business but their own. People who have come forward about their sexuality have been open about it, athletes such as Gus Kenworthy had a spread revealing his sexuality and that is the only instance where it should be reported, if the person actively talks about it.

    In terms of the politicians case, I don’t think the article should be about his sexuality but more about the crime of what he did. He has a wife and a child so assertions should not be made about this man’s sexuality, what should be done is that the public know of his doings with a minor. However, it should only be reported with all the facts present and evidence not just because its a buzzworthy story.

  3. Sorry Troy Here I left my comment using the wrong WordPress Account:

    I think when covering rumors over a person whether it be a celebrity or a politician it isn’t really necessary and its rather inappropriate. If a person wants to come out about their sexuality they will on their own time, going in and researching into someones private life is inappropriate, in my opinion its like asking a straight person to reveal the details of who they sleep with and what they do with there partners, which is not anyone’s business but their own. People who have come forward about their sexuality have been open about it, athletes such as Gus Kenworthy had a spread revealing his sexuality and that is the only instance where it should be reported, if the person actively talks about it.

    In terms of the politicians case, I don’t think the article should be about his sexuality but more about the crime of what he did. He has a wife and a child so assertions should not be made about this man’s sexuality, what should be done is that the public know of his doings with a minor. However, it should only be reported with all the facts present and evidence not just because its a buzzworthy story.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: