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NBC's Lauer Impatiently Wonders: 'What Is It Going to Take' for Gay Athletes to Come Out?

Leading a panel discussion on Tuesday's NBC Today about the possibility of a professional athlete coming out as gay, frustrated co-host Matt Lauer implored: "It's interesting that in 2013, with attitudes towards homosexuality changing so dramatically in this country, there isn't a single major athlete in a major professional sport playing right now who has come out and said, 'I'm gay.' Why is that?...What is it going to take to change that and have someone come out and say it?" [Listen to the audio]

Lauer made the same plea on Friday, lamenting that the unwillingness of athletes to announce their sexuality to world "says something about the times we're living in."

In response to Lauer on Tuesday, chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman noted "there are whispers" of gay athletes, while advertising executive Donny Deutsch touted: "And statistically it's been said that 10% of professional athletes are gay, just like 10% of the population is gay."

Deutsch hoped for "Just one brave person" to come out, prompting Lauer to wonder: "If one recognizable, high-profile, major sports athlete comes out and says, 'I'm gay,' do you think the floodgates open? You think all kinds of people come out?"

Wrapping up the discussion, Snyderman explained: "I know a couple of documentary film makers who have been for the last twelve years, been trying to do a documentary about just this thing. And one by one, people will talk about it, but they're not going to come forward for now."

Here is a full transcript of the April 9 exchange:

8:19AM ET

MATT LAUER: This next one comes as kind of a footnote to a story we covered last week, Magic Johnson with that emotional interview on TMZ about his son who was gay and how much he loves him. We started talking around here and we talked about Magic as this incredible athlete. We said, but you know, it's interesting that in 2013, with attitudes towards homosexuality changing so dramatically in this country, there isn't a single major athlete in a major professional sport playing right now who has come out and said, "I'm gay."

NANCY SNYDERMAN: No, there are whispers.

LAUER: Why is that?

DONNY DEUTSCH: And statistically it's been said that 10% of professional athletes are gay, just like 10% of the population is gay.

LAUER: What is it going to take to change that and have someone come out and say it?

DEUTSCH: Just one brave person. And it's very interesting, I have a lot of gay friends, and some who play professional – play college sports. And we talked about it, and we said, if all of a sudden you're in a locker room and you're naked together, it's like, gay guys don't look at it that way, where all of a sudden they're going to be looking at straight guys. It's so ridiculous, it's gonna take one guy to change, just like every piece of math there is.

SNYDERMAN: There are some sports-
 
STAR JONES: And it's not like a gay guy has not been looking at you in the locker room already, because the-

LAUER: No, no, no. But I – see, I don't think that's the part of it-

DEUTSCH: No, no, their answer is always it's going to be destructive to the team, destructive to the locker room, and it's just not true. Every athlete I talked to, professional athlete, says that's ridiculous.

LAUER: You said it will take one brave athlete. If one recognizable, high-profile, major sports athlete comes out and says, "I'm gay," do you think the floodgates open? You think all kinds of people come out?

DEUTSCH: I do, but-

JONES: Not right away.

DEUTSCH: One reason they don't do it, they say they don't want it to be a distraction to the team. But I don't think right away. But I think also this country right now is so progressive on all gay issues, that the door is wide-open.

JONES: Yeah, but you know what? Inside-

SNYDERMAN: But I think the NFL is a whole different ball game.

JONES: But inside of a sports environment, people use whatever they perceive as your vulnerabilities against you in a competition. People say things in the huddle, they make racist comments that otherwise we'd be all upset about. They make – and they'll make homosexual-
 
SNYDERMAN: I know a couple of documentary film makers who have been for the last twelve years, been trying to do a documentary about just this thing. And one by one, people will talk about it, but they're not going to come forward for now.