A study on homosexuality among US sportsmen has found that over 33 percent of former footballers admitted to having some kind of sexual relations with men.
The study, which signifies a rapid decline in homophobia among male athletes in the US, is based on the interviews of a rapid selected sample of 47 former high-school American football players, among whom 19 admitted that they had taken part in acts intended to sexually arouse other men.
The sexual acts ranged from kissing to mutual masturbation and oral sex.
US sociologist Dr Eric Anderson, who is the first openly gay male high school sports coach in the country, conducted the study.
According to him, the study showed that the increasing open-mindedness about homosexuality and decreasing stigma concerning sexual activity with other men had allowed sportsmen to speak more openly about these sexual activities.
"These finding differ from previous research on North American men who have sex with men, in several ways. First, previous research describes heterosexual men in heterogeneous group sex as men symbolically engaging in sexual practices with other men. However, I find informants actually engage in sexual activity with other men. But this does not mean that they are gay," Dr Anderson says.
The study also highlights the fact that athletes do not feel that their same-sex revelations would jeopardize their socially perceived heterosexual identities.
The 47 former masculine footballers, aged between 18-23, previously played at the high school level, but after they failed to get selected for their university's team they chose to be cheerleaders, which is often seen as a feminine activity.
"But as more men are open about their varieties of sexuality, it becomes less stigmatised to be gay or to have sex with men. It is increasingly not a problem to act in otherwise non-traditional ways," Dr. Anderson says, who now works at the University of Bath.
According to him, the same situation is true for the UK also.
His study will be published in the January edition of journal, Sex Roles.