An alternative way of using economic forces to support gay rights is to purchase more merchandise from a company that supports gay athletes. The potential for this approach is explored during a number of interviews between Rick Horrow (host of Bloomberg’s Sportsfolio) and Cyd Zeigler (Outsports.com).
Horrow discussed the possibilities for the first openly gay athlete in the major US sports with Zeigler in an interview (here) from April 2013. Soon afterward basketball player Jason Collins stated he was gay in a Sports Illustrated article. There followed another Sportfolio interview (here). In this interview Zeigler said he had a phone call from some friends who wanted to rush out and buy a Collins shirts. Zeigler suggested the callers should wait until Collins signed a new contract as that would reward the team that signed him. If the callers followed Zeigler’s advice then they would have to wait a while to get a Collins shirt. This was something Horrow and Zeigler returned to in a later interview (here). This November interview between Horrow and Zeigler is recommended viewing.
In the November interview Horrow uses the Collins case to wonder if gay athletes might find it difficult to get teams. At the time of the interview, the NBA season was underway. Collins had not been invited to any training camp and was not on any roster. Zeigler’s analysis cut straight to the tension between the sport and the economics. He explained the difference in priorities between the front office executives and the coach. He pointed out that the priority of the coach is winning.
As Zeigler talked captions on Collins’s stats were presented on the screen. Collins played for 12 years and with six teams. During these 12 years his teams qualified for the playoffs on 9 occasions and made the finals on 2 occasions. In his last season he played for the Washington Wizards. His salary was $1.35m but his stats dropped. His 2012-13 points average was only 1.1 for 38 games whereas his career average was 3.6. He was also going to be 35 on December 2nd, 2013.
Zeigler could understand how Collins might not make too many appearances for a new team. However, he pointed out that there could be some financial logic to signing him as a 12th man. There are economics forces that might support Collins’s case for a contract.
The November interview between Horrow and Zeigler also discusses the situation in other sports. In addition, Zeigler discusses the potential for the protests surrounding gay rights in Russia having an impact. It will make for an interesting few weeks if we are to judge by the rainbow clothing worn by the German team in the above photo.