by Rob Toledo Rob Toledo

NFL fan positive sentiment towards openly gay players increasing:

  • We polled 1,501 NFL fans and found that 65.8% now support openly gay players.
  • This is an 11% increase from our 2015 poll that found 54.5% of fans supported openly gay players
  • 72% of the US population thinks being homosexual is morally acceptable (source), a 7% increase over the same time frame (65% in 2015).
  • Our poll found that younger fans (18-34) are more supportive (80.8% support) than older fans (55+) (51% support).

One of the last celebrity professions where homosexuality hasn’t become mainstream is professional sports. Homosexual musicians, actors, politicians, and major company CEOs are now far more open about their own sexuality, likely helping to increase positive sentiment in public opinion. But in leagues like the NFL, MLB, and NBA, an aura of privacy remains among players.

Being open about one’s sexuality is a very personal choice, if the individual wishes to keep their private life private, this is their decision alone. But there are other possible reasons these athletes choose to remain private, including fear of negative attention, hatred from teammates and fans, loss of sponsorships, and avoiding “distractions” from their professional aspirations. But professional sports fan sentiment is shifting, and quickly.

In 2015, we polled NFL fans and found that 54% of NFL fans supported gay players being open about their sexuality. Our most recent poll conducted this summer found that trend increasing, now with 66% of NFL fans supporting openly gay players. This is outpacing public sentiment growth, which has increased 7% over the past two years, according to Gallup Polls.

The Data:

We polled 1,501 NFL fans and saw the following responses:

Do you support gay players being open about their sexuality in the NFL?

Support 65.80%
Do not support 25.80%
Unsure / No opinion 8.40%


Anecdotal commentary from respondents:

“I could not care less about whether or not an NFL player is gay.”

“It’d be nice to see more gay professional athletes open up about this. I think it would speed up the overall acceptance of the LGBT community in sports.”

“These men should keep their sexuality private.”

“Too much of a distraction to the teams, I think.”