Carl Nassib’s Announcement About His Sexuality May Help NFL Draw LGBTQ+ Fans

About 1 in 3 adults who identify as LGBTQ+ said they are more likely to watch the NFL now

Carl Nassib of the Las Vegas Raiders celebrates on the football field. The NFL player recently came out as gay.
Carl Nassib of the Las Vegas Raiders celebrates a win.
Harry How/Getty

After losing some fans due to players demonstrating on the field about social justice, the National Football League may gain some new supporters thanks to Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib’s announcement last week that he is gay.

Per a Morning Consult survey, about 1 in 3 adults who identify as LGBTQ+ said they are more likely to watch the NFL following Nassib coming forward to become the league’s first openly gay active player.

Of the 32% of LGBTQ+ adults who said they are more likely to watch NFL games following Nassib’s announcement, 16% said they are “much more likely” to watch pro football. However, 59% of LGBTQ+ respondents said Nassib’s announcement doesn’t impact the likelihood of them watching the NFL and 9% said they are less likely to watch.

The poll found that LGBTQ+ respondents were slightly less likely to express an interest in the NFL than heterosexual and cisgender adults with 57% of LGBTQ+ adults and 68% of heterosexual and cisgender adults identifying as fans of the league. Overall, 73% of LGBTQ+ adults said Nassib stepping forward as the first active gay player in the NFL is a sign of societal progress, an opinion 53% of heterosexual and cisgender respondents share.

Based on the results of the relatively small survey, more pro athletes should feel empowered to come out of the closet as sports fans are likely to be open and supportive.

“While relatively few professional athletes have publicly declared they’re gay, the results of Morning Consult’s poll, which surveyed 2,200 U.S. adults, indicate that sports fans are more likely to react positively than negatively to such announcements,” according to Morning Consult. “Fifty-seven percent of sports fans said professional athletes should feel free to share their personal lives and sexual orientation with the public, while 29% of fans said athletes should keep such details to themselves.”

As part of his announcement, 28-year-old Nassib donated $100,000 to The Trevor Project, a nonprofit organization devoted to preventing suicides among LGBTQ youth.

“Studies have shown that all it takes is one accepting adult to decrease the risk of an LGBTQ kid attempting suicide by 40%,” he said. “Whether you’re a friend, a parent, a coach, or a teammate — you can be that person.”

As the survey suggests, perhaps sports fans are collectively ready to take on that role.

“Nassib has already stepped forward,” wrote the Associated Press. “If his example encourages more people to become ‘that person,’ his legacy will be bigger and more enduring than simply being the ‘first.’”

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.