With one smiling Sports Illustrated cover, a massive barrier was smashed down. There was finally an active, gay male athlete in an American team sport.
In the aftermath of Jason Collins’ titanic announcement, the world just kept on spinning – a little brighter and a little more interesting than it had been before.
It was heartening to watch the response to the Collins coming-out, and it was even more heartening to watch Collins himself deal with it. If it was overwhelming (and by all rights, it should have been) you never would have known if Collins was fazed by it. He said all the right things and gave all the right responses in his Sports Illustrated article and the two high-profile interviews that followed, one for Good Morning America and one for Bill Simmons’ influential B.S. Report podcast.
In truth, there couldn’t have been a better athlete to make this announcement. Collins didn’t bring about that chum-in-the-water frenzy that a more high profile athlete would have sparked. No, Collins just gave the appearance and attitude of what he was – a workmanlike, everyday role player, a man who did the gritty things that every team needs to fill out a roster, a professional athlete who just happens to be a gay man.
He did everything the right way, and deserves more than a few rounds of applause for his courage. Kudos, too, should go to the dozens and dozens of figures that tweeted out or sent their support – Kobe Bryant, Baron Davis, Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton, among many others. Creating that atmosphere of tolerance and celebration will go a tremendous way to helping out all of those young people that are struggling with their sexuality. So, good job, Jason Collins, and good job, everyone else out there who worked to support this decision. It’s a reason for celebration.