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Original Issue

Under Review

ONE OUT Are TV viewers ready for an openly gay sports
broadcaster? Yes, says the Boston Herald's Ed Gray, who last week
became the nation's most prominent self-outed sportswriter when
he published a column headlined OUT AND PROUD. "I certainly think
it will happen soon," says Gray, 55, a horse racing beat writer
who has also covered the Patriots and the Red Sox during his 20
years at the paper. "Once major league sports address the issue
of homophobia, I think you will see real changes in the sports
world. Leagues have to set a firm policy which will hold athletes
or anyone in the organizations accountable for making homophobic
statements." In his Sept. 30 column Gray wrote, "I'm out because
I refuse to continue hiding from the truth that an openly gay man
has as much right as a straight man to play sports or report on
them." Gray says he has received hundreds of supportive e-mails
from newspaper colleagues across the country as well as from
employees of several Boston-area sports teams (but so far none
from active athletes). Television consultant Neal Pilson, a
former president of CBS Sports, also thinks an openly gay sports
broadcaster is on the horizon. "I remember when we debated
whether we should have women in the locker room, women as
analysts and women as commentators on the men's games," Pilson
says. When a gay broadcaster arrives, he adds, "it will not cause
a ripple. The public and the media are ready."

REEL DEAL Burt Reynolds has been tapped to host ESPN Classic's
weekly sports-movie series, Reel Classics.... Fox's
regular-season baseball ratings jumped 8% in 2003 (a 2.7 rating
compared with 2.5 in 2002), giving the network its best numbers
in four years. --R.D.