On Monday, NBA center Jason Collins, who played this past season with the Washington Wizards, came out publicly as the first ‘openly gay athlete in a major American team sport.’
Collins’ self-penned piece in Sports Illustrated starting with, “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay,” leaving nothing to interpretation.
It was a huge step forward for gay rights as no major sports professional athlete had come out while still being an active athlete.
While Collins has shown great bravery in coming out it has it’s questions as well. He’s technically a free agent at the end of his career:
“Now I’m a free agent, literally and figuratively. I’ve reached that enviable state in life in which I can do pretty much what I want. And what I want is to continue to play basketball. I still love the game, and I still have something to offer. My coaches and teammates recognize that. At the same time, I want to be genuine and authentic and truthful.”
He might never have played another minute in the NBA anyway. He’s old for a NBA player. He’s always been a bench player who received limited minutes of playing time.
However, those facts shouldn’t detract from Collins public statement today. It’s a first, technically, and it won’t be the last by a male professional sports athlete in America. For the past few weeks there has been rumors of several NFL players coming out. That will likely happen sooner than later.
It’s a big day for Civil Rights and equality in America. It’s not the biggest step, but it’s another big step for our country, sports, and equality.
Major props to Mr. Jason Collins on his courage, bravery, and penmanship. The article he penned for SI, which you can read HERE, is extremely well written and inspirational. No doubt he’s showing off that impressive Stanford education.