Jason Collins has been a relatively mediocre player over the course of a 12 year NBA career, where he has played for six different teams. All that changed when the cover of Sports Illustrated had an image of Jason Collins with the words: “The Gay Athlete.”
Collins became the first active male athlete in major American sports to come out as gay. In the year 2013 this should not come as a surprise that there is a gay athlete in major sports, but his choice to actually come out sparked a media uproar.
Questions of if the NBA and its fans were ready for Collins coming out arose. The question should not be if we were ready, but simply that we need to get ready. Basketball, sports, or the world as a whole is not a better place when we have people like Collins battling daily to express who he really is to his family, friends, and the world as a whole.
The response to Collins coming out resulting in a vast amount of support from the likes of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and former U.S. President Bill Clinton. There is no doubt that while a large amount of people showed support to Collins via Twitter, there is a group that feels uneasy about the situation. Now was the right time politically for Collins to come out, and the wrong time politically for others to neglect him.
Basketball is a game where contact with players is constant, and at Collins’ center position and majority of the time is backing down on an opponent. Players will feel awkward playing with and against Collins, and the fact that players shower together will be a major topic of discussion.
Well, with Collins kicking the door wide open for other athletes to come out, athletes need get ready now instead of asking if they are ready. In this day in age, Collins has allowed a barrage of others to follow his path. They are coming, and both the sports world and our society will be better off with these people showing their true colors.
Two weeks ago, newly No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft, Brittney Griner, told an interviewer she was gay. She did not proclaim it, announce it or have it be a coming out party. She simply said said she was gay. Griner’s response puts Collins coming out into perspective. People just moved on when she said what her sexuality was, while Collins started a historical day.
Why is it that if a male athlete comes out as gay, Twitter explodes and ESPN would have too if it weren’t for the great Tim Tebow making news again? Maybe it’s just because Collins is the first active male athlete to come out as gay, but a women athlete never caused quite a commotion.
The reason I do not see this as a, “where were you when it happened” day in history, is because it will seem downright silly to in 10 years. That is the beauty of the bravery Collins displayed by writing an eloquent piece in Sports Illustrated about his journey.
This is American progress. The end result is getting the same response that Griner received. Sports are seen by everybody, and the beauty of Collins decision is that an announcement like this would not even be necessary with nobody noticing.