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Photo credit: Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press

3MT presentation shines light on the ‘unseen athletes’

April 14, 2021 — 

Chris Voth admits he was nervous during his presentation in the opening round of the 2021 Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition.

“I like to think I’m a good actor, but I was shaking uncontrollably before and after the three minutes,” says Voth, a Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management master’s student.

A decorated varsity and professional volleyball player — as well as the first openly gay athlete to play on a Canadian men’s national team — Voth is accustomed to channelling pressure and anxiousness into success.

Voth made it through the heat round and now presents in the the 3MT finals Wednesday, April 21. His thesis: Shining a light on the unseen athletes, exploring the experiences of gay male team sport professional athletes.

His research aims to capture the stories of the athletes who had to hide their sexuality throughout their careers.

“Eventually, I would love to have the stories turned into a book or animated to reach an even larger audience,” adds Voth, who starred on the Bison men’s volleyball team from 2008-12.

Voth [BPE/20] drew inspiration for this research “because many athletes have begun to come out as 2SLGBTQ+.”

“It has been so awesome to see so many people able to be themselves,” he adds.

There is a void of gay male team-sport athletes within this representation, says Voth. Presently, there aren’t any openly gay male athletes in the four major North American sports.

“Many have come out after their careers in the NFL, NBA, and MLB, but none from the NHL.

The same phenomena is not present in individual sports or women’s sports. So, despite there being a record amount of openly 2SLGBTQ+ athletes at the Olympics, and in professional sport, there’s one sub-section still missing,” Voth says.

This research aims to share the stories of these athletes, giving people an appreciation for what they have gone through, to get where they are, and potentially what is keeping them from revealing their sexuality.

“The stories will hopefully resonate with people and force the sport culture make some adjustments, with our society to follow as it has in the past.”

The finals will be livestreamed via YouTube starting at 7 p.m. on April 21. Twelve graduate students chosen from three heats held in March will be presenting their thesis research in just three minutes to a panel of judges and a virtual audience.

Heading into the finals, Voth says he’s feeling focused.

“To practice the presentation, I went with the memorization tactic. There’s some very specific language that gets used in this research and I want to try and be as accurate as possible. I used this same model with my TEDx talk years ago, and despite a little lapse, I was able to remember it all.

This is much faster paced, and judged, so it adds some pressure. I’ve also tried to convince myself that I do well under pressure.”

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