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tv   Interview with Cyd Zeigler  CSPAN  November 20, 2016 11:15am-11:31am EST

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we appreciate all of your coming and we look forward to seeing you at another session , thank you very much. >> thank you. >>. >> you are watching the book tv on c-span2, this is live coverage of the 33rd annual miami book fair. that was dana perino and she will be bit us later to do a call-in program as well. now we are joined by cyd zeigler whose book called
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fairplay: how lgbt athletes are claiming the rightful place in sports. color, mister cyd zeigler, you are the cofounder of which is what? >> outsports was started many years ago because being gay sports fans we realize gay people didn't want to talk about sports and people in sports didn't want to talk about gay issues but we did and we knew there was a larger group of people who are like us so we started outsports to talk about these issues, talk about homophobia in sports, athletes coming out on their teams and slowly we kind of became the experts in the area because we were the only ones talking about it. i'm talking about back in 1999 it 2000, 2001. as slowly as professional athletes coming out of the closet in women's court and
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men's sports, mainstream media started paying a little more attention because they liked it. they like to pay attention to professional athletes. thehigh school athletes that we focused on and the smaller school college athletes we write a lot about, mainstream media doesn't talk much about them . but their stories are integral to the stories that we try to tell about where lgbtq people are in sports. >> in your book fairplay you talk about the big sides, what are those #ácustomá the big five is the big five professional sports leagues and a lot of people say it's big four, that would be the nfl, the nfl is the king in america. even with the ratings this year, it's still the most powerful cultural institution we have. it's the nba, major league baseball at the national hockey league. the big five would be adding major league soccer and i like to add major league soccer, i like to call it the big five because the only openly gay athlete we have in
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any of those leagues is robbie rogers who plays for the la galaxy and who won the last couple of them. >> here is currently the only openly gay athlete in the big five? >> publicly out. certainly there are athletes who are out to some teammates and they have a boyfriend, they're out to their families but we the public don't know or we don't talk about it and right now, the only one is robbie rogers. there's only been one other in history and that was jason collins. michael sam with the nfl never made a regular-season roster so there's only been two openly gay men in those five leads ever and there's only one right now. >> do you advocate for gay athletes to come out while they're actively playing? >> this is a tough question for our movement. because of course, coming out is a very personal journey for anybody and it begins the
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personal journey, it ends up personal journey. so i want people to come out, one because it would help change conversation in america. men's sports are held up as these bastions of masculinity and have a gay man come out in the world really helps and it has helped change the conversation about what is to be a gay man, what it is to be masculine. >> the other bigger reason that i advocate for people coming out in sports because of what it does for them personally. every single athlete that we've written about with a tiny fraction of maybe a couple of a few hundred exceptions have the same exact story. they're scared to death to come out of the plot closet to their teammates. once they do it, they are shocked by the support they
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receive from their teammates and their coaches. the men who are the most homophobic in their comments in the locker room are some of the first guys to hug them and embrace them and tell them i love you area and the only regret these athletes have is they didn't do it sooner. and it's not like well, this is the experience of some of the athletes, this is the experience of 99 percent of athletes that we've written about in high school, college , pro, olympic level, in tennessee and kentucky in california, in europe and australia so the big reason that i advocate for people coming out in sports is because it will make your life better and your eyes will open up to how much people love you. >> from your book fairplay, for years people have asked me about when we would see
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the gay jackie robinson. there are two ways to look at that. one, we already have and to know we never will. >> eyeballed that this term gay jackie robinson. a lot of people use it to talk about the first big sports star, men's sports star, like cheryl swoopes. there's a big men's sports star to come out of the closet and be that jackie robinson type person that changes the conversation? but to understand who jackie robinson was and what he wants, you have to understand where civil rights were in 1947 when he first played a major league baseball game. black people had trouble voting in a lot of states, they couldn't sit in certain parts of a restaurant or even enter some restaurants. they couldn't drink from water fountains. where people are today, it's nowhere near that. our rights to advance beyond where we are in the sports world so we could navigate gay jackie robinson because we just got today where the
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rights of african-americans were in 1947 but the flipside is, i look at instead of one seminal figure, all of the young athletes who have come out , in the mid-70s, dave was an nfl player, he was one of the first professional athletes to come out of the closet, men or women and since then, just a trickle and now a flood of all the younger kids were really changing sports from the ground up so this is a different way of looking at it but we will never have a single, seminal gay jackie robinson, even if they came out together, it's still not what jackie robinson was in 1947. >> what's the significance of michael sam's? >> there are so many different ways to look at michael sam's. again, michael was embraced
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by his teammates, the athletes at the university of missouri and they knew before he came out he came out publicly, he played his entire senior citizen series with missouri, sec player of the year wearing when you look at the pictures a rainbow wristband the entire season in every game and nobody picked up on it, nobody saw that. and the states embraced him when he went to the st. louis rams, he was drafted by the rams in the seventh round . the saints embraced him. some of the team leaders took him under their wing and tried to talk to him about being an nfl player, how to improve his game , the players really i think demonstrated where sports are. my teammates are going to accept you. the interesting part about michael's story on the flipside is that to me there
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is no question that him coming out hurt him in the draft. and there is no question to me that hurt him getting a job after he was cut from the rams and after he was cut from the cowboys. not a single team called his agent to inquire about him after he was cut from the cowboys after week six or whatever it was. that really tells you that nfl front offices, the rich white guys in suits still have an issue with this and it demonstrates a real lack of leadership on this issue in the nfl, particularly at the team level. the league i think would love to have a gay player in the nfl. it seems some of them are ready and some of them are. michael's story is a real mixed bag of where professional sports are. >> what's he doing today? >> he's not playing football and that's the most disappointing part to michael. derek gordon was a college
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basketball player who came out of the closet and ended up not making it into the nba. these guys, their identity is wrapped around the sports they played, they made a name forthemselves on national television and i know michael, he is not playing in the nfl . i don't believe he really did get a fair shake in the nfl. i truly believe that. i think it's going to haunt him and i think it will haunt a lot of people in the nfl for a long time. >> sid zeigler, michael irvin plays a large role in your book. >> michael, when i first met michael irvin, he had played for the miami hurricanes in college, played for the dallas cowboys in the nfl. when i first michael, he is just a ladies man, he is a man's man. he's the man. right? you do not get any greater of a persona than michael irvin has. he is a masculine man and as
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i got to know michael, we just had a mutual acquaintance and i started doing his radio show. michael opened up and he had a gay brother. and he was raised in the southern baptist household and viewed people were christian, not opposed to same-sex marriage and this was in 2011. michael agreed to do a cover story for out magazine which is a gay men's magazine in the united states. agreed to do a cover story for which he decided to appear shirtless on the cover of the gay men's magazine. this man's man appearing, it was just an incredible, it was a perfect storm and what was amazing about michael is it was so calculated by hand. he wanted to jumpstart conversation in the nfl about gay people and gay issues and he did the cause more and sat
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and the current warners of the world, they all took notice when michael irvin decided to be sure wason the cover of the gay men's magazine, talk about his gay brother and talk about same-sex marriage in 2011 and i look at that point as an important , a turning point in our movement . >> one of your chapters is on religion in sports, why? >> really, religion as a real strong grip on sports in the united states and it dates back to the early 20th century. it was very intentional by the church to embrace sports. and team prayers and the role of religion, team chaplains, it's a very powerful part of american sports at the high school level, at the college level and in the professional ranks. and unfortunately, a lot of churches have a problem with gay people. so when you have this constantly reinforcing of
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christian doctrine, part of that doctrine for a lot of people is very painful for a lot of gay people. so i think it's important to talk about gay people in the religion inside of sports just because of the stranglehold that religion has on sports in so many corners of sports.the flipside is that to a lot of people, sports is religion. it is the most important thing in their lives. >> but at the same time, are you still seeing that today where christian churches are emphasizing the homosexuality? >> one of the things i've been fighting about is the ncaa. the ncaa allows member institutions that have specific anti-lgbt policies, for example byu, brigham young is operated by the mormon church. they had in the student
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handbook specific policies that forbid homosexuality and even to gay people dating one another. it forbids it. and if the ncaa claims to be this incredible inclusive organization but allows its member institutions just because they are religious to actively discriminate against lgbt student-athletes, to fire coaches simply because they are gay. we know some institutions have done this. the ncaa allows that. to me it's very damaging to the lgbt community in sports and this is really happening today. >> so would you advocate that a byu should not be allowed into the ncaa? >> the ncaa says that inclusion includes lgbt
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people. they pulled some championship levelevents out of north carolina because of the hp to law that targeted our community . they cannot say that they are an inclusive organization and at the same time allow byu and its anti- lgbt policies that are lgbt students so i'm not going to tell the ncaa what to do but they can't do both area. >> was the reaction in the big 52 used as a reporter and as somebody who runs out sports. >> i have a fantastic relationship with people in the front office of every single lead. i think about greg aiello with the nfl who their head spokesman and others in the nfl and i mean, they answer my phone calls, the answer my questions. sometimes it's on the record, sometimes it's on background. billy being in majea


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