Monday April 29, 2013 was just another ordinary day in sports. Yet, at the same time, it wasn’t.

Jason Collins, NBA Washington Wizards center, is the first active male athlete to reveal that he is gay. The reveal is something that has not been done by an athlete from any of the four major American professional sports. The sports world has known gay athletes, but quickly after retirement from their respective sports and never while on an active roster.

His statement on the cover of Sports Illustrated sums up his attitude: “I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation.”

Well, the conversation has been started.

Everyone has been weighing in with their own opinions and statements. His current team, Washington Wizards, issued the following statement on Monday:

“”We are extremely proud of Jason and support his decision to live his life proudly and openly.  He has been a leader on and off the court and an outstanding teammate throughout his NBA career.  Those qualities will continue to serve him both as a player and as a positive role model for others of all sexual orientation.”

Even former President Bill Clinton released a statement emphasizing the importance of this action.  

“…Jason’s announcement today is an important moment for professional sports and in the history of the LGBT community… It is also the straightforward statement of a good man who wants no more than what so many of us seek: to be able to be who we are; to do our work; to build families and to contribute to our communities…”

Active NBA players around the league were also asked about it. Responses were positive. Most saying this does not affect Collins’ game or skills.

I intended to not be another blogger writing about Jason Collins. I thought there was nothing that I could write that would add anything new or different to the topic that has already been turned into a media sensation.

But, then, I drove into work this morning. During my morning commute, I was listening to a radio talk show program. The same (lighthearted and tame) station I listen to every morning. The radio hosts were talking about this very issue.

Not more than 20 seconds into the discussion, I was floored. I just couldn’t believe the main DJ’s comments about “not wanting to be naked in a locker room with him.” Without repeating more of his negative comments, it was at this moment I realized the magnitude of yesterday. It changed the world of sports. 

For as many supporters offering encouragement, there are others vocalizing hurtful and derogatory comments. Not everyone will be kind with their words.

My morning radio station seems tainted now. I don’t think I could listen without remembering the heartless comments of that host.

Jason Collins is brave. Former President Clinton also said, “I hope that everyone, particularly Jason’s colleagues in the NBA, the media and his many fans extend to him their support and the respect he has earned.”

I hope more people will do just that.

Advertisements