There have been challenges to engaging with the LGBTQ+ community in sports in recent times. The latest major global sporting events, such as the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, offer an opportunity to galvanize people in the community. To further understand the efforts to promote acceptance, we analyzed over 400K mentions from social media around the conversation of LGBTQ+ in sports. Here’s a look at what we found:
Across the globe, mentions of professional athletes’ individual initiatives to fight for LGBTQ+ visibility amass the most interactions. Here are some highlights:
- The Tokyo Olympics hailed as a stepping-stone towards LGBTQ+ inclusion in sports with its record setting number of openly LGBTQ+ athletes.
- Former Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib’s coming out story and his donation pledge to the Trevor Project generated over 2M+ interactions. From individual fans to active and former NFL players, Nassib received an outpouring online of support.
- Another top moment highlighted in this conversation was NBA veteran Dwyane Wade and actress Gabrielle Union’s interview in which they shared parenting tips for LGBTQ+ children. This piece was widely shared online by outlets ranging from local newspapers to renowned magazines.
The conversation is also spreading to new corners of the world. Though net sentiment around the conversation of LGBTQ+ in sports tends to skew negatively from 2021 to 2022, more voices from a greater number of countries are joining in on the dialogue.
As the topic of LGBTQ+ acceptance in sports continues to arise, sports organizations go beyond Pride Month to show their support to the community and spread their ongoing message of inclusion through different tactics including:
- Supporting local LGBTQ+ organizations: NHL announced a $100K donation to national LGBTQ+ organizations in coordination with Nashville Predators’ defenseman Luke Prokop.
- Organizing LGBTQ+ events of some kind: 29 out of the 30 Major League Baseball (MLB) teams have already organized LGBTQ+ friendly sport events since 2003.
- Opening discussions: NFL partnering with Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) to discuss advances in and the future of LGBTQ+ in pro sports.
During the 2022 Pride Month, these organizations adopted more strategies to raise awareness in support of the LGBTQ+ community in and outside of sports by:
- Using hashtags. The National Hockey League (NHL) opted for the hashtag #HockeyIsForEveryone to provide a positive environment for everyone in hockey regardless of their identities.
- Educating. Aston Martin Cognizant Formula 1 (F1) Team announced a Pride Month initiative in collaboration with Racing Pride to educate on the importance of allyship.
- Attending Pride events. Former National Football League (NFL) athletes showed up for the opening ceremony of the Stonewall National Monument Visitor’s center in New York City.
Now, more than ever, many sports fans are actively tuned in to social media to express their stand on social justice matters. Their demand for authentic brand presentation is no different than any other group of consumers. While the journey to unanimous acceptance of LGBTQ+ in sports is far from being completed, monitoring these conversations can help sports organizations to assess the impacts of their efforts and prepare the next ones in creating a safe and welcoming space for everyone.
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