First Man Out Wins the Jackpot – and Ellen Awaits

Football & marketing: a marriage made in money heaven – pic by puukibeach

Once again the media – and the GAY community – has demonstrated that it has the attention span of a flea. Homophobia in sports, not so long ago front-of -mind in the press, social media and the AFL, has disappeared from sight.

First, drugs in the AFL took the football industry off the hook. Now the gay community is embroiled in a controversy over the old fashioned slap-them-into-line style of policing currently in favour in Sydney.

The police seem somewhat taken aback, recoiling like a husband who thinks he can black your eye Saturday and be forgiven Monday. Who then discovers that this time it’s going to take rather more than just, “I’m so sorry, but you shouldn’t have provoked me, you know I love you, darl,” and a box of Ferrero Rocher to bring you back under his thumb.

Well we thought you loved us, too,sweetie, until we saw one of Fairfield’s largest and finest tossing a frantic flailing frightened off-his-head little queen around like a sack of potatoes. After you’d handcuffed him.

But I digress. Like the last ripples from a pebble thrown into Lake Weeroona, the ‘gays in football’ story has washed up in Bendigo, where a local councillor rants, ‘We don’t want sexual issues thrust in our faces at football!’ Scratch the breast cancer campaign, then. And the violence against women one, too.

The sighs of relief from gay AFL players echoing around the MCG and Etihad Stadium would drown out a Grand Final Crowd. But why is it such a big horror story for the poor dears? Surely it’s a massive business opportunity for one savvy homo? But – and here’s the catch – only one.

The energy that currently goes into maintaining the electric fence around his sexuality could be diverted to marketing it. Oh sure, he’ll need to have strong character to begin with,and maintain a positive outlook, because a certain amount of shit will undoubtedly come his way. But as they say in training: “No pain, no gain.”

He’ll need a good business and marketing team who can spot opportunities and go after them aggressively. But the rewards could be tremendous. Every player knows they only have a limited lifespan on the field. The wisest use their playing time, and their earnings, to build a future after footy. Where would this money come from for a brave, clever, articulate gay player?

Look at what David Beckham is worth, despite being the girliest pussy-whipped straight man in sport. And where is he really huge? Japan. An out and proud gay could knock him off his perch. Japanese consumer goods companies would have him vacuuming carpets in his footy shorts, while housewives and schoolgirls fantasised that maybe the’y be the one to bring him over to the other side.

Demetriou would have a Japanese League up and running inside a year.

Our boy’d have an instant Twitter/Facebook brand to boost the value of his endorsements. Cristiano Ronaldo has 55 million Facebook fans. David Beckham has 25 million. Our boy might not rise that far, but just remember, the day pro soccer player Robbie Rogers’ came out, his Twitter follower count jumped to 100,000. Our boy should easily top that.

He can leverage that, for example, by running petitions for gay causes that will harvest thousands of email addresses he can monetise to carefully selected causes and products.

If he’s intelligent and articulate, and has a good management team, he’s got it made on the speaking circuit. Speaking engagements,TV deals, books and films. Political parties will woo him. Universities will hire him. Business speaking engagements alone will build his nest egg fast. Reality shows will have him dancing/singing/ice-skating/cooking with the stars. The commentary box will beckon. Newspaper columns. Books. A biopic. Maybe movies. Merchandising. Product endorsements.

BUT . . . . .all this will only come his way IF HE COMES OUT FIRST.

In the US, football, soccer, baseball and basketball players are all trembling on the brink.  But wouldn’t it be great if the first out gay male team sport professional player was an AFL player?

With Ellen De Generes on her way here, what finer opportunity could there be to launch a global career?

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)