April 29, 2013

American sports has its first out player

Jason Collins

Jason Collins is America’s first openly gay athlete in a major male team sport. (Photo: Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports)

Effective today as of when the online edition of Sports Illustrated went live, the major male American team sports finally have one openly gay player. Jason Collins, a 12-year veteran of the NBA, published a first-person essay in Sports Illustrated in which he came out. From that essay:

I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, told me he had just marched in Boston’s 2012 Gay Pride Parade. I’m seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy. I was proud of him for participating but angry that as a closeted gay man I couldn’t even cheer my straight friend on as a spectator. If I’d been questioned, I would have concocted half truths. What a shame to have to lie at a celebration of pride. I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore. I want to march for tolerance, acceptance and understanding. I want to take a stand and say, “Me, too.”

Good for you, Collins! Not on the being gay part; that’s not really so much an achievement. But being the first guy to actually say it has been surprisingly difficult for what must literally be hundreds of active players.

Steam has clearly been building for a while now and the topic has come up often thanks to almost 20% of the states in the US now allowing gay marriages. In fact, I talked about this just last month when Dusty Baker was quoted in a story about the dearth of homosexual players in baseball.

I’m glad that the seal has finally been broken. Of course, I’m a little disappointed that it wasn’t an MLB player. I think that would have been something really historical to have been a part of.

3 comments to “American sports has its first out player”

  1. smoothitron says:

    Of course he isn’t actually on a team. There is no guarantee he ever plays again. Especially considering he wasn’t very good to begin with.

    It’s a little bit of poetic justice that the first open player was a goon/enforcer type like Collins though.

    The first gay player to deal with his openness in a locker room/clubhouse is yet to come.

  2. Amanda says:

    He said he waited until after the season on purpose, implying that he didn’t want to bring unwanted attention to his organization. Do you think this announcement will have any impact on his next career move?

  3. smoothitron says:

    I don’t think it’s likely he will ever be on an NBA roster again. Whether or not this is due to his sexuality is a topic that is currently being disregarded that I don’t think should be.

    The prevailing opinion is that he is too old and mediocre to warrant a roster spot anywhere, but the NBA has as many veteran fetishists as any sport. Assuming Collins doesn’t find a home, I don’t think the powers that be will necessarily deserve the free pass they will receive.