Sheryl Swoopes shoots, scores

Coming out may only make the superstar athlete more marketable.

Published October 28, 2005 1:51PM (EDT)

Broadsheet remembers when Nike named a shoe after Sheryl Swoopes more than a decade ago, and it seemed like social progress. It was a sign from the marketplace that women athletes had come into their own. Finally, an Air Jordan for us! The Air Swoopes.

But this tidbit, from the Boston Herald, about Swoopes' coming out, has even broader implications. Sports marketers predict that Swoopes' revelation that she is a lesbian will not cost her endorsement deals. It's already brought her one from a cruise line that caters to lesbians.

Instead, the Herald story suggests, being out may only increase Swoopes' marketability as a superstar athlete, raising her profile. The reasoning: More companies these days want to sell to the gay and lesbian market. Also, many young people, whom companies use athletes to reach, just accept homosexuality as a normal part of life.


UPDATED: A reader, posting in letters, points out that Swoopes endorsement with the cruise line was actually part of the impetus for her coming out now.

By Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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