With the storylines of the injury-plagued NBA playoffs more resembling an episode of General Hospital than the road to a championship, it is difficult to imagine anything else taking the spotlight off this soap opera-esque sports exhibition. However, NBA journeyman Jason Collins did just that with his announcement to Sports Illustrated. In the article Collins wrote for the sports magazine he states, "I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay." With this revelation, the veteran Collins, who spent the better part of a solid NBA career with the New Jersey Nets, becomes the first professional athlete in all four major American sports to come out.
Following yesterday’s announcement, Collins has been met with an outpouring of support from both the NBA and global communities alike. Kobe Bryant tweeted, "proud of @jasoncollins34. Don't suffocate who you are because of the ignorance of others. #courage #support #mambaarmystandup.” First Lady Michelle Obama wrote, "So proud of you Jason Collins! This is a huge step forward for our country. We've got your back."
Still, not everyone was a fan of the news. ESPN’s Chris Broussard expressed his general disagreement with homosexuality because of its sinfulness, while former New York Knicks' guard Larry Johnson added, “Me personally gay men in the (locker) room would make me uncomfortable.” Perhaps the most baseless, homophobic and idiotic remark, however, came from Miami Dolphins' wide receiver Mike Wallace. As reported on TMZ, minutes after the press release, Wallace took to Twitter writing, “All these beautiful women in the world and guys wanna mess with other guys SMH (shakin' my head)…” It is indeed refreshing to know that we have not fully progressed beyond the archaic days where homosexuality was thought to be a choice. Perhaps we might also be encouraged to believe the earth is flat, a woman’s place is in the kitchen, and truly start a cultural movement of “Un-enlightenment: a Return to the Age of Ignorance.”
The only choice exercised here was Collins' personal choice to end an existence of dishonesty and begin one as a pioneer for an openly gay lifestyle in professional sports. The display of courage in that alone warrants admiration and respect.