Monday, April 29, 2013

Jason Collins and the Art of Trailblazing

The attitude with sports in general is leave everything extra going on in your life at the door once you step on the field/court/whatever. It sounds like for Jason Collins' 11 years in the league, that is exactly how he went about his business. Jason Collins is a normal guy attempting to make a living as is everyone else in the league and the question is why should his homosexuality change his work? It doesn't. Bill Simmons said today "sports is our toy store with our heroes and villains. We have so much invested in guys we barely know and we like it to be as life-like as possible, and this is exactly what this does". I completely agree with him. Someone please tell me where this is wrong in coming out? It's in no way selfish, it's merely drawing attention to an issue that sooner or later was going to be addressed. For the gay athlete community, the perfect guy stepped up and began to blaze the trail.
But in reality, is this a big deal? It is but it isn't. Yes, he is the first openly gay player in professional male sports, but it is not a big deal in the respect that he is a normal guy and this should be a normal situation where the overwhelming reaction should be "well okay, nothing wrong here". And for all those out there who believe it is wrong these individuals in sport who are coming out get more support then a christian Tim Tebow are insane. Is it harder to be openly gay or openly christian?..... Okay thank you, I hope this becomes normal and players no longer have to publicly announce they are are gay. It is offensive that in modern ay society we are so intolerant to the point where an individual has to come out and announce their sexual orientation in order to start a movement. I hope eventually that we can get rid of this "closet" in sports so that players no long have to come out of the closet, they may just interact as normal people like many of them already do.
Lastly, I'd love to applaud Collins. In the conference finals a couple years ago, LeBron James played like complete garbage and we all assumed he had some problems conflicting with his play causing the terrible play. Imagine being Jason Collins and always having this internal fear within you as a black male in a culture which was not always the most welcoming to players who are different. African American males carry an image as homophobic, while not always true, carries a some truth in the NBA. A culture which thrives off of individual success, translating into wealth, which translates into women. Countless NBA players have stories of players of a contingent of their team partying and going to strip clubs night in and night out. Players having girlfriends various cities aside from their wives. Being an individual who does not fit that mold, yet surrounded by it, must be somewhat overwhelming and it takes a strong mental individual to persevere through it. Collins went to work for 11 years with the prospect that one of his teammates may notice that he didn't partake in any of this and that is why it is so impressive. Jason Collins stayed true to who he was throughout his entire career. He came to his work everyday and was a true professional who has assumed countless leadership rolls on various teams. That is who Jason Collins is.-Josh Neighbors

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