One Computer Game Lets Athletes Come Out To Help Normalize The Experience In Real Life

"... We are in a world where people can’t be themselves."

While there are currently no openly gay players on any major professional U.K. football team, one video game aims to normalize the fact that there can be — and probably are — LGBT players. Football Manager, a popular sports game, now features the ability for its fictional players to come out and, most importantly, shows everything will be A-OK in that aftermath.



The spreadsheet game — which has its 2018 version coming out on November 10 — allows users to manage all aspects of running a football club. If one of your computer-generated players comes out — a random occurrence — you'll be notified in your inbox. As a result, you'll soon see a revenue boost thanks to new attention from the LGBT community.

"Part of the reason we decided to do this is because there are gay footballers," Miles Jacobson, the game's director, told BBC Sport. "We know from the amount of professionals that there has to be players who are gay, but feel they don't want to come out."

This is true, football players have come out — but they do so after retiring from the sport. As NewNowNext points out, the U.K.'s Football Association announced earlier this year they were actively offering to support closeted players and help them come out but, in the end, not a single player came forward.

Football Manager — which introduced a Brexit feature on this year's version — took into consideration that it's still illegal to be gay in some countries so, for players based in those countries, the game will respect their laws and that player won't come out. After all, as The Mirror notes, if that happened in the real world there would be negative repercussions for those players. The goal of the game, Jacobson said, is not to change people's minds but to normalize ideas for the future.

"We are not going to be able to change the mind of someone who is homophobic, we don't have that power, and if someone has that issue and decides not to buy the game for that reason then, to be honest, I feel really sorry for them," he said. "Hopefully, it will make some people look up and think, 'This is ridiculous.' "

A BBC survey from October 2016 showed that 82 percent of people in England, Scotland, and Wales who responded said they'd have no issue with a gay player. As for those who said they would stop watching their team in this situation, that was just 8 percent.

"I find it weird that it's still a problem in football, so we decided to try and show people that coming out isn't a big deal and can be a positive thing," Jacobson continued. "I just think that it's crazy that, in 2017, we are in a world where people can't be themselves."

That said, Jacobson said he longs for — and is looking forward to — the day when those who work in the football world are able to "feel 100 percent comfortable with who they are, whatever their ethnicity, religion, or sexuality."

Cover image via esfera / Shutterstock

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