Monday, April 29, 2013

I want the world to know, got to let it show.....

NBA player Jason Collins coming out as gay is only newsworthy in one sense. That is, he is the first active professional athlete in one of the four major team sports (NBA, NFL, NHL and Major League Baseball) to make such an announcement. Outside of that, being a homosexual in today's American society is no longer all that shocking. That fact alone should bring forth a tremendous sense of accomplishment to those who have advocated for "gay rights" for decades.

My immediate reaction to Collins' declaration was twofold. First, good for him! I was always bothered by that fact that former pro athletes Esera Tuaolo (NFL), Billy Bean (MLB) and John Amaechi (NBA) felt the environment in their respective sports was much too hostile for them to freely admit to being gay while active in professional athletics. It was only after retirement that they "came out." Hopefully Collins' announcement will pave the way for others to come forth if for no other reason than sheer catharsis. Secondly, there was a clear double standard with this issue in terms of gender. I've heard/read interviews where a handful of WNBA players openly talked about being in same-sex relationships without ever having made a formal announcement of their orientation. It was pretty much accepted without conditions, apparently unlike male athletes. Of course the comeback would be that the WNBA, albeit a professional team league, is not nearly on par with the aforementioned four male pro sports leagues in terms of popularity, notoriety, etc. Fair enough.

Despite being a 12-year NBA veteran, Collins wasn't exactly a household name, even amongst the most ardent hoops fans. As a 7-footer who has averaged a meager 3.6 points and 3.8 rebounds over his career, he somehow hung on in the league. However, he's been traded four times over his career and not re-signed on two other occasions. With his last stop being with Washington Wizards at the end of this past season, Collins is once again a free agent. If indeed he's not signed by any NBA team, will people make the assertion it's due to the fact that Collins is gay? Of course. But sports is, after all, a numbers game. There has been a total six times in his NBA career that the franchise for whom Collins played jettisoned him for basketball reasons. In 38 total games this past season, Collins tallied just 1.1 points and 1.6 rebounds per game.

One should not even have to be a hoops fan to ascertain that the possibility of Collins' NBA career coming to an end will have more to do with lack of productivity on the court than anything having to do with his personal life.


No comments: