One in Eleven
Football is notorious for its lack of openly gay players. As the most popular sport in the world with thousands of professional teams, it is remarkable that there are no out players. Statistically, it is highly improbable that there are no gay football players so, how do these closeted players cope? What are their experiences?
One in Eleven, the blog of a former semi-pro English footballer named Craig, gave us a taste of how these players must feel. From February through October 2010, Craig shared his experiences as a gay football player. He spoke candidly about football, his boring part-time job, his bizarre love for ketchup, and the stifling feeling of being in the closet.
Craig was raised in a strict Christian commune by a very religious family. He left once he could, and now only sees his family a few days every couple of years. However, his family is very important to him, and he fears what coming out may do to their relationship. He got serious about football in his late teens and played semi-pro for a few years, before quitting to focus on his degree. He is now a mortgage representative for a bank, and is trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life.
Craig’s blog displayed the complexity of sexuality. Craig wrote, “[My sexuality] is about as relevant to [my friends] as whether I like oranges or not,” but sometimes adopted a more somber tone, saying, “This is what the closet does to me…. Some days I feel like my youth is slipping away from me and I’m missing so many opportunities. On the other hand I know my life would be hell if I came out now and I don’t know if I’d be able to handle it.” He was relatable and likeable. He despaired over office relationships, Arsenal matches, his own football skills, and food. Reading his blog gave one a sense of what he is like as a person, beyond his experience as a gay football player.
In the past few months, Craig has stopped playing semi-pro and moved to a smaller team. He also changed his blog from a focus on being gay and playing football to a general glimpse into his life (Life of Greg).While it is true that his sexuality was only one part of Craig’s decision to stop playing, his blog makes one wonder how many other young players are dealing with the pressure to stay in the closet? Until homophobia becomes less prevalent in football, we may never know. Hopefully, bloggers like Craig will push the door open further for these questions to be asked and answered.
– Anosha Minai