The big sports story today was obviously the announcement that Jason Collins is the first openly gay active sports star. While this is a pretty big moment in the world of sports, it doesn’t really make the massive splash that some people would have expected. This story would be much larger if this were a Kobe Bryant, Patrick Willis, or Evan Longoria, but instead it’s a guy who has had a long career but he’s not really a massive star that people know worldwide. Unfortunately, I have a feeling he’ll be overshadowed by the first star athlete to come out as gay, because there will be a much larger media focus on someone who’s got more name value. Again, I am very proud of this man for being able to come out and accept whatever may come from his doing this, I just think he’s going to become an afterthought compared to other people who may come out.
When you look at his career, he’s got less than 3,000 points scored, at 34 years old, he’s closer to the end of his career than the beginning, and he’s nowhere close to the top 50 players in scoring NBA history. The thing I fear is that he’ll be more of a footnote in history than being seen as the Jackie Robinson of the homosexual community. I respect his admission of wearing the number 98 in Boston as a silent tribute to Matthew Shepard, but it could have been a much larger tribute if he’d come out sooner, or at the very least admitted why he chose this number. It’s great that we’re finally getting people to break down the barrier of sexual intolerance in this world (well aside from that Mike Wallace guy in Miami) but it would have been a much larger deal if he were about five years younger or much higher on the list of all-time greats in the sport.
I’m very proud to live in an age where we finally have someone coming forward to admit they’re a homosexual and still attempting to remain active in the sport. With any luck this will be the catalyst to more people in other sports finally coming forward and accepting themselves for who they really are inside. Being gay is not a horrible thing and should not be looked upon as such; religious beliefs are one thing, but even that has its limitations I believe. I believe, and will until someone is able to find some evidence otherwise, that people are born gay and it’s not some choice they make, we’re all human and deserve the same love and respect regardless of sexual orientation, race, and even religious beliefs.
I saw the story earlier today while at work and immediately had to share it on Facebook. This is one of the greatest stories to come out in the world of sports in recent years; I’m just waiting for Major League Baseball and the National Football League to finally step up to the plate, no pun intended. If there’s any justice in this world, this man will get the same respect that Ellen got when she came out. The problem with this is that I get the feeling he’ll be the Amanda Bearse instead, the person who came out first but people forget about it because the other one was a much larger deal because they were the main star of their show.
One major upside out of all of this is that we might finally see gay marriage pick up steam and become legal. I say congratulations to Jason Collins for finally being able to accept himself and be true to who he really is inside, and good luck with the rest of your career. This moment has been a long time coming.