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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

ODU Hosts Hampton Roads Premiere of "Alone in the Game," Centered on LGBT Sports Community

By Keith Pierce

Distinguished Old Dominion University alumnus David McFarland '84 returned to campus for the Hampton Roads premiere of "Alone in the Game," a documentary he wrote and produced.

The AT&T original documentary, which for nearly a year has been featured at film festivals worldwide, follows a group of athletes and sports figures from the NFL, NBA, MLS and NCAA, among others. The 90-minute film features the personal stories of LGBTQ athletes who deal with living their most authentic life or hiding in fear that their sports careers will come to a crashing end if the truth comes out. Viewers heard from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, former ESPN President John Skipper, former NBA center Jason Collins, former NFL lineman Ryan O'Callaghan and MLS Cup champion Robbie Rogers, as well as Olympic medalists Gus Kenworthy and Megan Rapinoe.

"We're giving viewers a rare look into the lives of these elite athletes' unique journeys and open their eyes to the daily challenges these athletes face on and off the field of play," said McFarland, "Alone in the Game" creator and executive producer. "With added attention to this issue, I'm hopeful we can affect real change at the highest levels of American sport and that the next generation of LGBTQ athletes will be judged by their athletic performance, rather than their sexual orientation or gender identity."

The event, sponsored by Student Engagement and Enrollment Services (SEES), ODU Athletics, The LGBT Life Center and Outwire757, took place in the Mills Godwin Life Sciences Building.

After the screening, McFarland, a former ODU student-athlete, entertainment executive, public speaker and award-winning writer and producer, took part in a panel discussion moderated by local news broadcaster Barbara Ciara of WTKR News 3.

"The film was riveting!" Ciara said. "The panel members offered real-life examples of how to navigate life under the glare of judgment, while others pointed to resources available to them in Hampton Roads."

Other panelists included Jake Reeves, ODU, coordinator of LGBTQIA+ Programs and Initiatives; Maggie Robinson, a senior forward on ODU's women's basketball team; and Zain Welsh, of the LGBT Life Center and Stonewall Sports Norfolk.

A business administration graduate, McFarland lives in Los Angeles and serves as executive vice president and principal of Studio 4 Networks, the first family of video-on-demand cable networks providing high-quality educational and health and fitness programming. He is also a partner in a real estate investment and finance company.

"It was great that the audience was able to engage with the film's writer and producer who also happens to be an ODU alum," said Preston Reilly, coordinator for student organizations and leadership for SEES. "The discussion centered on experiences, resources and support for the LGBTQ population on campus and in the greater Hampton Roads community."

During his three-day stay in the area, McFarland met with students and campus groups, including student-athletes, coaches and athletic administrators; gay cultural studies students and film students; the Office of Intercultural Relations; and the ODU Safe Space Committee.

For additional information about the film:

https://www.facebook.com/AloneInTheGame/

https://start.att.net/exclusive/audience/alone-in-the-game-documentary

http://www.AloneInTheGame.com

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