Monday, April 29, 2013

Profile in courage: NBA's Jason Collins says: "I'm gay"

The word "courage" is thrown around often in sports.

A hockey player who competes when injured is displaying courage.

A point guard who speaks out to demand excellence from his teammates is showing courage.

A wide receiver who blocks a defensive lineman is being courageous.

A batter who "takes one for the team" is showing courage.

Why, there are some who actually call golfers "courageous" for attempting difficult shots.

You want courageous? Jason Collins is courageous.

Collins, a 34-year-old, 12-year NBA veteran who was a backup center for the Wizards and Celtics last season, became the first male athlete in one of the four major North American sports to come out of the closet.

He told Sports Illustrated: "I'm glad I'm coming out in 2013 rather than 2003. The climate has shifted; public opinion has shifted. And yet we still have so much farther to go."

I have said for years that one of the last bastions of permissible discrimination takes place in the locker rooms of major sports teams. There is so much homophobic behavior, so much ignorance and intolerance on this issue, it would take tremendous courage to tell the world you no longer want to pretend to be something you're not.

Congratulations to Jason Collins.

He is a free agent and wants to keep playing. He's never been the most talented offensive player but he used to be considered a tough defender who was at his best against stars such as Dwight Howard and Shaquille O'Neal. He was good enough last season to start nine games.

It will be interesting to see if an NBA owner has the courage to sign him.

1 comment:

  1. I'm having a tough time figuring out why there has been so much media attention to Collins' announcement. Perhaps I am naive? Perhaps I, as a woman, just don't get it and never will? I always figured there were gay athletes just like there are gay folks in any walk of life. It makes no difference whatsoever to me, and maybe the idea that it does matter to others is what I do not comprehend. And I think it is sad that we say a gay man is courageous for saying the truth when it should be something not worth mentioning because we accept who they are. Sigh.