The biggest opposition to gays in our society has to do with seeing them as being fundamentally different than the "rest of us". Openly gay professional athletes would help to broaden people's understanding that gay people are in every profession in life and have the same interests that we all do. The area of sports is especially a good one, because it is seen as being strictly a male dominated activity, or female dominated one, and so a gay athlete of either sex would help to open up acceptance of gays in society.
We need openly gay professional athletes, as many children look up to athletes as role models to look up to. Many gay and questioning young adults are already pressured by their family and peers and society at large, many of which are still condemning their orientation. We need gay athletes to be a positive role model for today's children, not just in America, but the world at large. We need them to be leaders in a fight for equality.
I don't think that we really lose anything by having athletes in our nation that are openly gay. Sports and the people who play them are a cross section of our culture, and it is safe to say that we have gay people in our culture, so let them be in sports.
There's the role model argument, of course; but ultimately it's about everybody's freedom to be a whole human being. And I can't help wondering if some of the openly gay and lesbian pros of the past who came out after retiring might not have been even greater athletes if they hadn't had to wall a part of themselves off and live in fear.
Why should athletes need to be open about their sexuality. An open stance can be useful in some sports, but an open stance towards your personal sexual beliefs doesn't affect your athletic ability in any way shape or form. It would just cause controversy that is not needed or necessary. Sports should stay an activity that is purely based on skill. I believe that challenging the sexuality of players would cause discrimination and lack of respect. Athletes would be looked at for their sexual standpoint rather than their abilities. There is no need to have openly gay athletes.