Tags: Collins | Gay | NBA | Clinton

Jason Collins: A Gay Man in the NBA

Wednesday, 01 May 2013 09:59 AM

By Susan Estrich

  Comment  |
   Contact  |
  Print   |
    A   A  
  Copy Shortlink
It is almost unbelievable that this is a first.
 
But it is. Jason Collins is the first male athlete playing in a major sport to "come out."
 
Yes — the first in any of the five major leagues.
 
The president applauded him for his courage. Chelsea Clinton, his college classmate, and her dad both spoke out in support of him. So did Kobe Bryant, who two years ago was fined $100,000 for making an anti-gay slur to an official. NBA Commissioner David Stern praised Collins for assuming a "leadership mantle on this very important issue."
 
Collins deserves all of this praise and more.
 
Of course, Collins is not your ordinary professional athlete. He is far better educated, more articulate and more sophisticated than at least 90-something percent of the men who play professional sports.
 
He attended one of the finest and most elite prep schools in the country, Harvard-Westlake, with the children of some of the wealthiest and best-connected people in the world. He went on to Stanford, where he hung out with the president's daughter. Surely none of this should take away from his courage, but it does make clear just how far professional sports have to go.
 
It is simply not possible that Collins is the only gay man playing professional sports in America. Not possible. That even Collins, with his education and connections, felt the need to stay in the closet so long speaks volumes about why his announcement matters.
 
It was only last February that Chris Culliver of the San Francisco 49ers said he would not accept a gay teammate. (He was forced to apologize, but frankly, so what?) Grant Hill of the Clippers was quoted, this season, as saying that gays are "still taboo in the locker room."
 
Still taboo in the locker room. The last plantation of intolerance?
 
Not in the military. Not in Congress. Certainly not in Hollywood. Nine states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex couples to wed. Rhode Island is about to be the 10th. If you ask me, the United States Supreme Court will soon hold that the federal government cannot discriminate against same-sex couples and that California cannot revoke their right to marry. If not this year, then soon, I expect the court to hold that the Constitution requires such recognition.
 
So why can't a gay man play football or basketball or baseball without hiding his sexual orientation? Who cares who he sleeps with if he can catch and throw and make the shot?
 
That gays should be taboo while brutality, abuse, and violence have been accepted is stunning, to say the least.
 
Collins has made a stand and in public, anyway, is receiving broad and vocal support. What's being whispered in locker rooms is no doubt another story. Ignorance is not eliminated by the courage of one man and the support of two presidents. And Collins, a free agent, is officially unemployed. Whether another team will hire him, who knows?
 
But for gay kids who are playing sports in playgrounds across the country, there is finally a beacon, a role model, a man to look up to, to realize that you can be a great male athlete, still showering in the locker room (assuming he does for at least another season), and a proud gay man.
 
It should not have taken until 2013. There should be more than one man standing up. But last week there were none. Progress may be slow, but it is still progress. It is clear which way the wind is blowing. Once, Jackie Robinson stood alone. Someday we will say the same of Jason Collins.
 
Susan Estrich is a best-selling author whose writings have appeared in newspapers such as The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post, and she has been a commentator on countless TV news programs. Read more reports from Susan Estrich — Click Here Now.
 
 
 

© Creators Syndicate Inc.

  Comment  |
   Contact  |
  Print   |
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Country
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
 
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

Manage Your Healthcare With Persistence

Wednesday, 08 Oct 2014 09:06 AM

I've read a lot of stories about how you're supposed to manage your own health care, produce it even, as I've explained  . . .

President's Safety Above Politics

Friday, 03 Oct 2014 16:10 PM

Try this test. Pick up your local paper and tell me: How many of the issues that people in your community are concerned  . . .

Rest in Peace, Mom

Wednesday, 01 Oct 2014 09:28 AM

Today would be my mother's 88th birthday, which is not so old, but my mother seemed very old eight years ago, when she d . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved