Jason Collins’ Announcement Could Lead the Way for Other Athletes to Come Out
In the world of sports, there are certain things that just aren't talked about. We all know that there are gay professional athletes across major professional sports, but don't know exactly who they are. In the past, professional male athletes who have revealed they are gay have done so after they retire.
Before Jason Collins made his brave announcement, there was not one active gay player in major professional sports. Collins has earned the admiration and respect that he has been given thus far. With just a few words, Collins may have forever changed the way teammates and fans view openly gay athletes.
The obvious next step in the progression of gay athletes in sports is for more athletes to step forward and come out. The problem is that even with Collins coming out, many players still are fearful of what the announcement could do to their career. If not for fear of teammate reaction and rejection by their league, you could assume that more players would already have come out.
People from both sides of the argument for and against gay athletes have been voicing their opinions in full force. In the NFL for example, former Pittsburgh Steelers WR Hines Ward told NBC Sports' Pro Football Talk that the NFL is not ready for an openly gay player. Ward said, "I don't think football is ready. There's too many guys in the locker room and, you know, guys play around too much,". Ward goes on to say that he doesn't have anything against gay people, but that the culture of the NFL would hinder a player making a similar statement as Collins did.
The announcement by Collins and reaction to it open another debate that the league, owners, and fans will have to consider. Why does sexual orientation even matter in sports? Athletes should be judged on their ability and what they bring to the team. In professional sports, it ultimately comes down to wins and losses.
MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL officials need to adjust and adapt to the changing landscape of their respective sports. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of players freeing themselves of years of denial and fear. For Collins, he should feel nothing less than pride in the fact that he has effectively broken the homosexuality barrier in major professional sports.