Centre for the Social History of Health & Healthcaare Out on the Pitch: Sexuality and Mental Health in Men's and Women's Sport, 1970-Present

 ‘Out on the Pitch: Sexuality and Mental Health in Men's and Women's Sport, 1970-Present’

Funded by Wellcome Trust Seed Award 207450/Z/17/Z

Professor Matthew Smith

Why have more women athletes come out than men? What role has sport played in facilitating or preventing LGBT athletes from coming out and what effect has this had (both positive and negative) on mental health? 

‘Out on the Pitch’ is a scoping project for a future Wellcome Trust Collaborative Award application focussing on Sport and Mental Health, and involving Matthew Smith, Mark Doidge and Ali Haggett. This future bid will be framed on three research strands: Sport as Therapy; Narratives of Sport and Mental Health; and Sport as a Challenge to Mental Health. As our plans for the Collaborative Award progressed, sexuality became an increasingly important theme - spanning all three of our research strands - but was also the one we felt we needed the most development, planning and support to research. 


  1. Test methods for recruiting and interviewing athletes about this emotive and, sadly, still controversial topic
  2. Bring together academics, athletes and activists to inform our approach to research and knowledge exchange
  3. Consult archives to assess their importance to the future project
  4. Construct a database of sport autobiographies that deal with sexuality
  5. Explore publish engagement possibilities, including filming a documentary