CNN, ESPN journalist addresses issue of sexuality in sports

Sean Lavery

More than 30 students gathered in Harris Hall, 1881 Sheridan Road, on Thursday to hear guest speaker LZ Granderson present his perspective on race, sexuality and gender in the realm of journalism. The event was sponsored by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and the Rainbow Alliance.

Medill sophomore Zachary Wichter approached Granderson at an event for the NLGJA and asked him to be part of the groups’ spring event. The CNN and ESPN contributor said he considers himself one of the only openly gay individuals working for a prominent sports publication.

Granderson said several recent events have challenged him to question his perspective on sexuality in sports. On Monday, The New York Times ran a piece that had president and chief executive of the Phoenix Suns, Rick Welts, openly discussing his homosexuality for the first time. Kobe Bryant, a guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, was fined $100,000 last month for directing an inflammatory sexual remark at a referee.

Granderson said he hoped news stories about sexuality would one day disappear from headlines.

“When do we draw the line in the sand and say that this is no longer news?” he said.

Granderson began covering sports for his college newspaper and followed through to a career that led him to online publications.

He said he is aware of several athletes at all levels of play who are closeted and said the fear of coming out rarely comes from teammates.

“Closeted athletes worry about what the fans will think,” he said. “They worry about what owners will think.”

Homophobia and sexism still plague newsrooms, Granderson said, and he often grapples with the question of how to handle an insensitive remark. Young, aspiring journalists should be aware of the obstacles still present in the industry, he said.

“I’m not saying it’s a happy story,” he said. “I’m just saying this is my story.”

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