Sports inevitably change as time passes, with some new things easily noticed on the field (like when football helmet technology progressed from leather to today’s modern helmets), while other changes are more subtle and rooted within the psychology and sociology of sport. Two interesting paradigm shifts we are seeing today include increasingly more gay athletes feeling comfortable talking about their sexuality while still competing, and more athletes voluntarily retiring from sports even though they are still healthy and talented enough to continue playing.
It wasn’t that long ago that openly gay athletes in sports were almost unheard of, but today we are seeing athletes from just about every sport imaginable coming out. NBA player Jason Collins came out, as did football player Michael Sam, with Sam going on to say there are many more gay NFL players who have yet to feel comfortable coming out. Recently, former NCAA wrestling champion Mike Pucillo came out, making him the first in his sport to talk openly about his sexuality. It appears as though the stigmas and hurdles associated with homosexuality in sport are changing by the day, and it is expected that more athletes will come out in the near future.
Healthy athletes retiring from sport
Another interesting sports trend is the number of otherwise healthy and able athletes choosing to voluntarily retire from sports. Unlike the old days where most athletes had to be forced out, we are witnessing more athletes today threatened by the long-term effects of contact sports, including serious cognitive and physical disabilities. With contact sports becoming more physical with every year that passes, maybe it shouldn’t surprise us that more players are thinking about their futures and being healthy enough to enjoy their post-sports careers.
What changes and trends are ahead remains to be seen, but the movement for gay athletes to openly express their sexual preferences and healthy athletes retiring because of long-term health concerns appears to be here for good.