The culture of American competitive team sports and the hegemonic masculinity engraved in it has created a homophobic environment that has silenced and closeted male athletes who self-identify as homosexual. Although the LGBTQ+ community has advanced substantially in other aspects of society, the representation of openly gay athletes in these activities has been a taboo. The praise and establishment of male hierarchy that comes with competitive team sports, along with the homophobic discourse constantly shared in playing fields and locker rooms, play a huge part in preventing closeted athletes to live their true, out lives. Drawing from numerous resources to uncover the origins and details of this issue, Be a Champion is a public service announcement and campaign meant to tackle the existing levels of hegemonic masculinity in the world of competitive sports today.
Graphic designer and digital storyteller
HOMOPHOBIA IN AMERICAN SPORTS
Throughout my research process, I dove deeper into the roots of the issue of homophobia in sports by identifying where it is most likely to occur and who it affects most. Out On the Fields conducted a survey on homophobia in American sports, which included nearly 9,500 gay and straight participants. This was the largest and first international study of this kind.
As I looked to gain new information on this topic, I had some questions of my own to ask. I conducted a survey searching for the perspectives of other individuals who have participated in competitive sports activities in the past or from those who actively participate in these events today.
What does it mean to be a true champion?
Must we work our hardest and push ourselves to our greatest physical limits?
Must we prove that we are the strongest;
that we have what it takes to be the real deal, to be what we’re expected to be.
A “real” man?
To be a true champion, must we be able to take a hit?
Must we prove that we are not weak –
while constantly hoping that our skill, our talent, our athleticism will overshadow our true identities?
Can’t say the wrong thing, can’t look at the wrong thing, can’t act like the wrong thing.
Can’t be the wrong thing.
But who we are isn’t wrong. It’s what makes us great.
So be fearless. Be supportive. Be unstoppable.
It isn’t weak; being who you are and doing what you love.
It’s what champions do.
Because to be a champion is to change the game, even if it means challenging everything.
So go ahead. Let’s be champions.
CAPSTONE EXHIBITION GALLERY SKETCHES
When thinking of ways to bring this project to life in a 3D space, I focused on creating an enclosed environment for the audience’s experience, emulating the feeling of “being in the closet”. As the viewer sits down on the locker-room style bench, surrounded by sets of decorated lockers, they are presented with the Be a Champion public service advertisement displayed on a monitor with two headphones provided. I explored multiple iterations in which these elements could be combined to best meet the gallery’s specifications.
Brand Design Intern
As a brand design intern, I coordinate with multiple divisions for all marketing and brand channels. I am in charge of creating print and digital assets that display Hudl’s elite brand to current and potential customers such as players, coaches and athletic directors for high school, college, club and professional sports organizations.
Jacht, a student-run advertising agency, allowed me to work with over twenty talented and creative students across the University of Nebraska. These students took over the disciplines of account executives, brand strategists, copywriters and designers. I collaborated closely with agency pros and available mentors to take on client projects and internal tasks.
Rural Futures Institute
As the only in-house designer at Rural Futures Institute, a University of Nebraska-owned organization dedicated to improving the lives of rural Nebraskans and bringing awareness to rural issues, I led the charge in the creation of all digital and print materials. I created graphics and scheduled weekly social media posts, which targeted RFI’s growing audience. Constantly in contact with the local printing service, I ensured a level of quality across each and every print piece which included employee business cards and RFI’s Microsoft Brief; a publication that showcases the highlights and outcomes from the visit of Shelley McKinley, Microsoft’s General Manager of Technology and Corporate Responsibility.