Typically, when you turn on ESPN during late April, you probably expect to see endless highlights of playoff games and major league baseball along with post NFL draft discussion. That all changed last Monday when Jason Collins became the first active athlete of any of the 4 major sports to come out and say he is gay. Judging from the coverage that ESPN and many of the networks gave the story, it was like this was the biggest and most dramatic story in about a decade. Oh my!! breaking news, a professional athlete just declared he is homosexual. Let’s cover this wall to wall and forget about the other more important stories and news!
Quite frankly, I do not understand why this story is such a big deal. Sure Collins is the first active professional athlete to come out and say he is gay but he is not exactly the first high-profile person to make such an announcement. There have been many politicians, actors and other celebrities who have come out with their admissions. It should come as no surprise that a professional athlete finally came out. I am willing to bet there are about 25 NBA players who are gay and are keeping it as a secret. Many probably do not want to announce it for fear that it would be a major distraction for the team. Others are probably fearful that it could cost them a spot of the team if their sexuality was known. Some general manager or coach may not like the idea of an openly gay player on their roster and find an excuse to cut or release him or her.
I would have absolutely no problem having an openly gay teammate. I do not agree with their unnatural lifestyle but what matters to me is what kind of teammate and person they are. We could hang out as well and be good friends as long as we did not try to force our lifestyles on each other. I think most athletes in sports feel the same way. If an openly gay guy is a good teammate, works hard in practice and is not some self-centered egomaniac, he will find himself easily accepted. Sure,it might be a little awkward in the locker room. I often wonder how gays are able to control themselves while showering with their teammates.
This story really brings up the issue of tolerance in our society and how we deal with it. Suppose someone you were close to you announced that he or she is gay? How would you react? The same holds true of other lifestyles in our society. I find it very disturbing that our culture seems to be increasingly accepting of gays and their lifestyles while at the same time, putting down Christianity. Imagine if some famous athlete declared he or she was a new born again Christian? Unlike the Collins story, the media would totally ignore that story. I imagine he or she would be roundly criticized and told to keep their religion to themselves. Imagine if somebody in the media criticized a homosexual or lesbian and told that person to keep their sexuality to themselves? That media person would be a marked person forever!!
Shortly after Collins came out with his announcement, there was widespread praise from many people including the president who gave Collins a phone call. Some even went as far to call Collins a hero and compared him to Jackie Robinson? Really? That is really stretching things. There is absolutely no comparison to what Robinson went through and what gays go through today. A gay person is far more accepted in our society today than what Robinson had to put up with in 1947. Not even close!! Homosexual and lesbians should feel lucky that they live in this country and not some middle eastern country. Collins would be a real hero if he lived in Saudi Arabia and made the announcement. Our country for the most part is very tolerant of gay people.
I wish Collins the best of luck in trying to find a new team. I hope he will be judged not by his sexual orientation but rather his ability to play in the future. Sadly, I can just see the widespread criticism and calls of discrimination if no team signs him. I just wish we could stop the fascination with this overblown story and issue. There are far more important issues in this world to deal with and should get more attention.