Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-06-08
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Sports Complex Selling 'Out': Product-Placing Jocks
by Jim Provenzano
2004-06-16

This article shared 5638 times since Wed Jun 16, 2004
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Pictured Esera Tuaolo, who will be the grand marshall at Chicago's Pride Parade June 27.

Image is everything, as the saying goes. In the struggle for mainstream acceptance of GLBT athletes in professional sports, some gay athletes are making inroads through advertising and sponsorships.

In March, pro golfer Rosie Jones came out in an op-ed piece for the New York Times. At the same time, Jones announced that she would be a spokesperson for a lesbian-owned company, Olivia Cruises and Resorts. She told The Advocate that the endorsement offer from Olivia provided a major incentive for going public about her sexuality.

Do athletes have to secure such endorsement deals to further their careers? 'Only if they want to pull in multi-millions,' says Michael Wilke, whose Web site, The Commercial Closet (see the Web site at www.commercialcloset.org), documents the fascinating variations on gay-themed ads, from supportive to defamatory to somewhere in between—i.e., 'gay vague.'

A predominant justification given for athletes to stay closeted has always been financial. Tennis great Martina Navratilova experienced a drop in endorsements after coming out. Likewise, 'Billie Jean King says she had existing sponsors who dumped her after her announcement [of coming out],' says Wilke.

Former baseball player Billy Bean's 2000 coming out included a touching full-page New York Times article, a subsequent national book tour, and speaking engagements sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign. A TV movie based on Bean's life is in development, and Bean and Billie Jean King have been named as ambassadors for Chicago's Gay Games VII. Yet despite Bean's fame, no major companies related to sports have offered him significant endorsement deals.

Since coming out, Navratilova gained deals from companies like the Rainbow credit card and Subaru. Such ads 'help show future athletes that their opportunities are not as limited any longer,' says Wilke. 'The media brings further attention to the gay community's presence in professional sports, which creates a greater comfort level for all.'

Wilke cites a change in recent sponsorships, including a Chili's TV commercial featuring ukulele-strumming former NFL player Esera Tuaolo, now openly gay. The ad identifies him merely as 'Esera, retired athlete.' A hopeful sign is that Chili's continued the ads even after Tuaolo came out in appearances on Oprah and other national TV shows. But most viewers who see the ad probably don't know who Tuaolo is or that he's gay.

Gay viewers tend to interpret companies that endorse gay athletes as gay-supportive. But the ad agencies that used Navratilova and Tuaolo have been quoted on Wilke's site as saying that they were not making a political statement.

And does a company's sponsorship of an out athlete let them off the political hook? For instance, Coors' ongoing struggle to counteract a decades-long gay boycott against the company included a 2001 full-page print ad that featured gay Olympic swimmer Bruce Hayes wearing his Olympic medals.

But Coors' ad had a flip side. Regional print ads and promotions hardly provided a balance to their commercials deliberately snubbing gays and portraying sexually aggressive straight men. Coors' foundations have been proven to fund far right-wing groups dedicated to eviscerating GLBT rights, particularly gay marriage. (Yet some gay sports groups, several of which are in Colorado, the main base of Coors, gladly accept donations in exchange for posting Coors banners at their sports events.)

Another example of a corporation's dual nature can be found with carmaker Saturn. Three-time Junior World Champion Ina-Yoko Teutenberg is a member of Team Saturn's women's cycling team. An out lesbian raised in Germany, Teutenberg has placed first in dozens of major cycling competitions. 'It's not a big deal being a lesbian in cycling,' says Teutenberg. 'I've never had any problems. I think there are enough gay girls around in the sport.'

However, Saturn's 2003 commercial, 'Camping Trip,' offered a homophobic take on the film Deliverance amid the threat of male rape. Wilke's site rates the commercial as a negative.

Should gay consumers focus our dollars instead on companies that offer not only endorsements of gay athletes, but more consistent support of our community?

Former Olympic diver David Pichler enjoyed sponsorship from Speedo before, during, and after coming out, and as he finished his career at the 2000 Sydney Olympics at age 30. Elected team captain, Pichler finished ninth in the 10-meter platform, fourth in the men's synchro diving event with Troy Dumais, and seventh in the 10-meter platform with Mark Ruiz.

'Fortunately, for myself, Greg Louganis, and others, Speedo has been supportive,' says Pichler. 'They never said anything to me about being gay, never questioned me. They've also been supportive to IGLA (International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics).'

Still, swimming has few sponsors, Pichler says. But in considering the prospect of losing Speedo's endorsement, he says, 'It's not an issue that would have prevented me from coming out.'

See www.sportscomplex.org .


This article shared 5638 times since Wed Jun 16, 2004
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

U.S. men's soccer team qualifies for 2024 Olympics 2022-07-02
- The U.S. men's soccer team has qualified for the 2024 Olympics. This will mark the first time since 2008 that the U.S. men will participate in the Olympics, Sports Illustrated noted. The men's U-20 team clinched ...


Gay News

UCLA, USC to join Northwestern, Michigan in Big 10 2022-07-01
- The name "Big 10" will be even more of a misnomer as two West Coast schools—USC and UCLA—have announced plans to leave the PAC-12 and join the collegiate sports conference as early as 2024. That will ...


Gay News

White Sox celebrate Pride Night 2022-07-01
- On June 23, the Chicago White Sox held their annual Pride Night. The Baltimore Orioles were that night's opponent. During the White Sox celebration of Pride Night, presented by Vizzy, wives and significant others of the ...


Gay News

ACLU files case against Indiana's anti-trans law 2022-07-01
- On July 1, a law banning transgender girls from playing on girls' sports teams in schools went into effect. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has asked for an injunction on the law, WTHR reported. On ...


Gay News

Sky win fourth straight; Fire prevail on Pride Night; Cubs win, White Sox lose 2022-06-30
- The Chicago Sky (14-5) defeated the Connecticut Sun (13-7) 91-83 on June 29 at Wintrust Arena, scoring their fourth consecutive win. A scorching start helped Chicago. The Sky set a new WNBA shooting record in a ...


Gay News

Courtney Vandersloot named WNBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week 2022-06-28
- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CHICAGO—Chicago Sky's Courtney Vandersloot was named WNBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week, the league announced. This marks the seventh time in Vandersloot's 12-year career to receive the honor. Vandersloot is the ...


Gay News

Russian trial for Brittney Griner to begin July 1 2022-06-27
- More than four months after she was arrested at a Moscow airport for alleged cannabis possession, a Russian court has set the start date for the trial of U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner for Friday, July ...


Gay News

Sky, Cubs and White Sox all score narrow victories 2022-06-27
- On June 26, the Chicago Sky (13-5) defeated the Minnesota Lynx (5-14) 88-85 at Wintrust Arena. The matchup was the 23rd head-to-head meeting between the Sky's Candace Parker and the Lynx's Sylvia Fowles—the No. 1 overall ...


Gay News

U.S. House passes resolution urging Griner's release 2022-06-26
- The U.S. House passed a bipartisan resolution calling on the Russian government to immediately release WNBA star Brittney Griner, CNN reported. "Not a day goes by that we aren't thinking of Brittney and working to get ...


Gay News

Chicago Wolves win Calder Cup; Cubs, White Sox lose 2022-06-26
- The Calder Cup (for minor-league professional ice hockey teams) has been awarded again—and the Chicago Wolves are back on top of the American Hockey League, TSN reported. The Wolves secured their first Calder Cup championship since ...


Gay News

'Hawks to hire new coach; Cubs blank Cardinals; White Sox lose 2022-06-25
- Luke Richardson is expected to become the new head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks, an NHL source confirmed to ESPN. Richardson would replace interim coach Derek King, who went 27-33-10 after taking over for Jeremy Colliton ...


Gay News

Rugby league bans trans women from international competition 2022-06-24
- Rugby has banned transgender players from women's international competition until further notice, following global swimming's decision to restrict trans athletes' participation at the elite level, Reuters reported. The International Rugby ...


Gay News

Chicago Red Stars hire Morinao Imaizumi as assistant coach 2022-06-24
-- From a press release - CHICAGO, Ill. (June 24, 2022) — Today, the Chicago Red Stars announced the addition of Morinao Imaizumi to the club's coaching staff as an assistant coach. Imaizumi joins the club for the remainder of the 2022 ...


Gay News

Gov. Pritzker expands state license plate options to include Chicago Sky, Red Stars and Fire 2022-06-24
-- From a press release - CHICAGO — Governor JB Pritzker signed HB4434 into law today, expanding the options of professional sports team license plates Illinoisans can choose from at the Secretary of State. The change, which adds the Chicago Fire, the ...


Gay News

Parker makes history in Sky victory; Cubs, White Sox lose 2022-06-24
- On June 23, Chicago Sky player Candace Parker made history as the first WNBA player with three career triple-doubles in Chicago's (12-5) 82-59 win over the Los Angeles Sparks (6-10) at crypto.com Arena. An audience of ...


 



Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS






Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.