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New Sports Protocol: How to ‘Come Out’

A new type of playbook is fast evolving in the world of sports: An informal, commonsense protocol for how prominent gay and lesbian athletes can come out as gay with maximum acclaim and minimum turmoil.

Key decisions include how to reveal one’s story, whom to tell it to and – crucially – when to tell it.

Former NFL football player Wade Davis, grand marshal for the Chicago Gay Pride Parade, speaks to reporters prior to the parade in Chicago. (AP Photo/Scott Eisen)

The logistics of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam coming out were coordinated by Howard Bragman, a public relations expert who is vice chairman of Reputation.com, which helps clients manage their online images.

Bragman offers advice for athletes considering coming out. One key part of his strategy is to break the news before anyone else does. He says athletes should choose wisely how the story is told, because the first stories define the narrative.

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