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NBA Center Jason Collins sets the stage, and a wonderful example, for gay athletes

Apr 29, 2013, 2:11 PM EDT

Jason Collins

It’s not a baseball story, but some sports stories are so significant that we’d be remiss in not noting them. This is one of them: veteran NBA center Jason Collins has come out as gay in a wonderful, eloquent and uplifting Sports Illustrated column. You owe it to yourself to read his words on the matter.

NBA Commissioner David Stern has issued a statement of support, as have multiple NBA coaches and players from Doc Rivers to Kobe Bryant on down. There have already been and will be comments from bigots, homophobes and simple, pathetic provocateurs as well. They’ll be discredited, mocked and ultimately pitied in pretty short and overwhelming order if they haven’t already have been. We’re in a very different world now than even a decade ago, thankfully.

Those folks aside, I’m particularly struck by Stern’s use of the world “family” in his statement. While we all know that sports are a business and a quite often ruthless meritocracy, when it comes to the off-the-field and off-the-court human interactions, it makes eminent sense that people within sports, who know what one another are up against all the time in ways that none of us on the outside ever could, treat one another with the decency of a good, loving and strong family.

Today this is a basketball story. In the coming years this story will inevitably play its way out through football, hockey, soccer and baseball as well. When it does, Collins will be the touchstone, and his brave example and honest words will the ones that set the stage for and provide comfort and guidance to other gay athletes seeking to live their lives and play their sports outside of the closet.

Congratulations to Jason Collins for his bravery, his example, his humor and his class.

123 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. bougin89 - Apr 29, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    This is great for sports and I have a ton of respect for Mr. Collins. It sounds like he came out on his own terms as well, good for him. I think this is a giant step forward for society in general. Hopefully we get to a point where it won’t matter if a player/person is straight or gay, and hopefully thats sooner rather than later.

  2. miketreedy - Apr 29, 2013 at 5:30 PM

    For some reason the media has considered it important that there be a professional gay athlete for years. The fact that an NBA player is gay has zero impact on anything in my opinion. I think most people always assumed that there are professional athletes that are gay. Why is knowing that Jayson Collins (who has had a long career but most people have never even heard of) important to the media? I have no idea what athletes are married or not and don’t care. Why should anyone care? Are people going to root for him more now that he is gay? That would be as silly as not rooting for him (if you had in the past) because he is gay.

    The media and many people (including Craig) in this room are making too big of deal on this. He obviously wasn’t discriminated against since he has had a 12 year career. This isn’t the Jackie Robinson story. Jackie wasn’t able to play because the color of his skin. Jayson Collins has had a 12 year career and earned millions playing. He was never kept from earning a living because he was gay.

    • sportsdrenched - Apr 29, 2013 at 6:02 PM

      In 20 years no one will care, but for the right reasons. But I have a feeling a lot of people don’t want to care right now because they don’t want to engage in this discussion as a society. This discussion needs to happen, and once we’re done having it, it will be over and done with..with the exception of that small percentage of the population that always seems to be on the fringe about a lot of things. But for the most part it will be a non-story.

    • billybawl - Apr 29, 2013 at 7:14 PM

      Many people care, as you can see if you look at comments on non-moderated boards or Twitter — and many of those people are spewing hate today. Collins has been in the closet for his entire career, so of course he didn’t face discrimination. Nobody knows what he will face next season, or if he’ll even be offered a contract. Maybe at some point we will have examples of many players who were out during their careers, and then we can say this is a non-story. I respect your opinion, but couldn’t disagree more.

      • miketreedy - Apr 29, 2013 at 8:42 PM

        The guy is a backup for Washington – one of the worst teams in the NBA. He is a free agent. Plus he is 32 or 33 years old. I doubt he would have been resigned with a team anyways. Now of course there will be pressure to sign him. Smart move Collins.

      • badintent - Apr 29, 2013 at 9:50 PM

        End of NBA career. Broke, needs $$ . Solution. Write a book about coming out. NYT bestseller list. mega bucks. Not broke. Happy.Twin brother broke. Writes book about being bi………………………………………………….

      • Kevin S. - Apr 29, 2013 at 10:10 PM

        He’s made roughly $30 million in his career, graduated from Stanford and is regarded as one of the most intelligent players in the game. Unless you have some kind of evidence that he’s squandered his money beyond “he’s a black NBA player,” might want to slow down on those assumptions.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 29, 2013 at 11:34 PM

        Amusingly, Collins appears to be more literate than both of the persons who commented on your post.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 30, 2013 at 12:27 AM

        Oops, above Kevin, I mean. Sorry.

  3. thepancakebandit - Apr 29, 2013 at 6:37 PM

    Okay I can honestly say I have no problem with gay athletes or people in general. They’re humans just like everyone else. I have a very close member who is gay, in fact.

    That being said, I am so incredibly sick of the moronic media making this in to such an enormous deal. Very few people actually care if someone is gay or not, but the media tries (and succeeds to a large extent) to make it so much more controversial than it is or should be.

    • tfbuckfutter - Apr 29, 2013 at 6:56 PM

      Lots of people care if people are gay.

      That is why like 30 states WENT OUT OF THEIR WAY to BAN gay marriage. That not only shows that they care, it shows they care AFUCKINGLOT.

      If you don’t think this is as big an issue as Civil Rights for blacks in the 1960s (but obviously not as serious as the abolition of slavery) you’re an idiot.

    • billybawl - Apr 29, 2013 at 7:21 PM

      Go to Yahoo or Twitter and see what is being spewed today. Hateful, vile comments that wouldn’t be tolerated against nearly any other group. I think those feelings are sincere and, unfortunately, shared by many. There’s a reason why few pro athletes have come out of the closet. There’s also a reason why many people, straight and gay, have been expecting and waiting for this day to arrive. This is a huge story.

  4. indaburg - Apr 29, 2013 at 6:51 PM

    No, this makes no sense.

  5. tfbuckfutter - Apr 29, 2013 at 6:53 PM

    Nothing good about banging Asian chicks, but if some people want to, whatever.

    Wait, that sounds kind of racist….I wonder how come the thing YOU said sounds ok to you, but the thing I said sounds racist to me…..

    • tfbuckfutter - Apr 29, 2013 at 9:00 PM

      Ok…if you’re going to delete someone’s comments….maybe delete the replies too.

      Now I just look like a crazy anti-Asian-chick guy.

      I actually like Asian chicks. Not an excessive amount, but the proper, appropriate amount.

      • badintent - Apr 29, 2013 at 9:53 PM

        REal question is not if you like Asian chicks But if they like you ! And the envelope please. The answer is NO !!

      • historiophiliac - Apr 29, 2013 at 11:39 PM

        Now, can you connect Sandra Oh to Kevin Bacon?

  6. deathmonkey41 - Apr 29, 2013 at 8:25 PM

    I wonder if this will encourage Tim Tebow to come out? It’s not like he has a lot else going on anyway…

  7. seattlenative57 - Apr 29, 2013 at 10:40 PM

    What a bunch of self-important, pseudo science, religious know-it-all bull-crap. Most of the commenters here have no clue what they’re talking about or attempting to justify. If you do not recognize the significance of being out in this society I suggest you STFU. Generalizing cultural factors such as religion and race is more know-it-all BS. Straight people will NEVER know what it’s like to be gay in this culture and need to shut-up and listen.

  8. phinfan527 - Apr 29, 2013 at 11:20 PM

    Canseco started the steroid story and look where baseball is now. This NBA story will be no different. I think more athletes retired or at the very end of their careers will now start to come out.

  9. tuscaloosaguy - Apr 29, 2013 at 11:30 PM

    Just another reason not to watch the NBA.

  10. joj0420 - Apr 30, 2013 at 1:25 AM

    Now don’t get me wrong, I love gay people have a bunch of gay friends/relatives, saying that. I just don’t understand, there are so many beautiful women in this world.

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