NBA free-agent, Jason Collins, has come out as being gay in an article for Sports Illustrated. Read the article to see the full story – it is written by Collins himself and he explains a lot of his feelings.
Collins is the first male athlete in a major pro sport to come out while an active player. Many women athletes have come out while active in their sports and several men have come out but only after being retired from their sport. There have been rumors that one, if not four, NFL players were planning on coming out in the next few months. Jason Collins beat them to the punch. While making history wasn’t the reason Collins has come out, he has made history.
There are still big questions that remain. Will Collins be accepted by teammates? Will he get a chance to have teammates because he is a free agent and will a team sign him now that they know the truth? How will the fans react? These are the same types of questions that Jackie Robinson had to deal with it when he was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers.
I believe that a team will sign Collins. From all reports, he’s a fantastic role-player and is great for team chemistry. He knows his job is to set picks, play defense, and grab rebounds and teams always have a need for that type of player on the court.
I believe his teammates will accept him. There may be some that now have an issue with him due to his orientation, but as long as he helps his team win games, his teammates will be fine with him. After all, as he said in the article:
“My behavior wasn’t an issue before, and it won’t be one now. My conduct won’t change. I still abide by the adage, “What happens in the locker room stays in the locker room.” I’m still a model of discretion.”
I do believe most of the fans around the league will accept him, he may even receive more cheers than he ever has in his career. While there will be some fans who will still yell nasty things, I’m hoping (and I believe) the ones supporting him will be able to drown those people out.
What does this mean going forward? Will more male pro athletes come out now because the pressure of being “first” is gone? Will those players who were considering coming out wait and see how the league, the players, and the fans react? Pure statistics will tell you that Collins isn’t the only gay athlete in American professional sports so I’m sure there’s plenty of playerse in all the pro sports looking at themselves hard in the mirror today and deciding to make the same leap that Jason Collins has made.
Today is a historic day. Today is a day that we all knew was coming. Today is the day that a male athelete stood and shouted to the world, “this is who I am. You don’t have to approve of it, you just need to respect and accept that I am who I am and I have a right to play the sport that I love just as much as you do.”
Today is just the first of many days like this that I see coming – it may be weeks or months away, but I do believe more male athletes will have the courage that Jason Collins displayed and finally be able to say to the world “this is who I am.”
Today Jason Collins broke down a barrier. Here’s hoping that others find the resolve he did and follow him through it. It takes courage to do what Jason Collins did and I applaud him for it.