By Nick Butler

The "Out on the Fields" study is being held alongside the opening of the 2014 Gay Games ©Federation of Gay GamesA first major international survey on homophobia in sports is being undertaken to coincide with the ninth edition of the Gay Games, which are due to open tomorrow in Cleveland and Akron, Ohio.

The study, entitled "Out on the Fields", will offer thousands of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) athletes the opportunity to document their opinions and experience, with the participants set to include Michael Sam of the St Louis Rams, one of the world's highest profile gay athletes

The American football player also features in a video urging people to take part in the groundbreaking study.

British-born rugby league players Sam and Tom Burgess, former Australian footballer Sarah Walsh, and Australian rugby union flanker and LGBT rights advocate David Pocock, also participate in the 90-second video. 

The study will be the first to collect data about discrimination in the United States as well as in other English-speaking countries, thus offering a baseline for comparisons between countries.

It is hoped this will help researchers determine both the extent of the problem internationally, as well as which countries are doing the best job at creating sports cultures that are welcoming and safe to LGBT people.

Researchers conducting the study are hoping for at least 500 more people in the United States and Great Britain to participate, in order to reach their target of 2,000 people from each country, with participants attending the Gay Games set to add to this total.

Respondents from other countries are welcome, in particular from the large Canadian delegation arriving in Ohio, with the study open to everyone regardless of sexual orientation or whether they have played sports.

It takes around 10 minutes to complete and can be accessed here.

"We're supporting this historic study because it has the potential to provide a much clearer understanding of the extent and nature of homophobia in sports," said Les Johnson, vice-president of membership of the Federation of Gay Games.

"As we prepare for [the] Opening Ceremony of Gay Games 9, we recall that since their founding by Olympian Dr Tom Waddell more than 30 years ago, the Gay Games have been a powerful tool against homophobia in sport, with thousands of 'out' recreational athletes paving the way for recent high-profile 'coming-outs' like those of Michael Sam.

"But these should not hide how endemic the problem of homophobia remains.

"Everyone has had a unique experience, which is why it is essential that we encourage a large number of LGBT people to share their stories, whether or not they themselves have played sports or experienced discrimination.

"We encourage everyone at Gay Games 9 to visit our booth at the Festival Village to learn more."

It is estimated around 7,000 participants will compete at the Gay Games, taking place from tomorrow to August 16 and aiming to "empower thousands of LGBT athletes and artists through sport, culture, and fellowship".

More information can be found on the event website here.

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