Following NBA player Jason Collins' public announcement that he is gay, a quarter of Americans, 25 percent, believe having an openly gay athlete is a positive development for society. Seventeen percent say having an active athlete announce he is gay is a negative change for society and 57 percent feel it makes no impact.
An overwhelming number of Americans—87 percent—say their support would not change (77 percent) or would increase (10 percent) if their favorite athlete announced he or she is gay. Just 12 percent say they'd be less likely to support their favorite athlete after learning he or she is gay.
Not surprisingly, young Americans were most likely to say an athlete publicly announcing he is gay is a positive development for the country. In fact, 36 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 believe Collins' announcement was good for society. And just 7 percent of 18-24 year-olds feel it was negative for society. In fact, 36 percent of Americans under 40 agreed Collin's announcement was a positive thing for society. Half say it doesn't significantly impact society either way.
Roughly 40 percent of Democrats and Americans with college and postgraduate degrees and a third of women, Latinos, Caucasians and American with higher incomes say openly gay athletes is a positive development.
Only 12 percent of Americans told Reason-Rupe they'd be less likely to support their favorite athlete after learning he or she is gay. About a quarter of self-identified conservatives said learning this would make them less likely to support their favorite athlete, however 70 percent said it would not make much of a difference.
Nationwide telephone poll conducted May 9-13 2013 interviewed 1003 adults on both mobile (503) and landline (500) phones, with a margin of error +/- 3.7%. Princeton Survey Research Associates International executed the nationwide Reason-Rupe survey. Columns may not add up to 100% due to rounding. Full poll results found here. Full methodology can be found here. Demographics and detailed tables are available here.
A version of this article first appeared in the Orange County Register.
Photo Credit: Kwaku Alston/For Sports Illustrated.