This Coming-Out Story Feels Like A Really Big Deal, Combats Stereotypes

jason
Okay, we'll admit that while we love the big events (Super Bowl parties! The Olympics!), the day to day of athletics rarely makes it onto this site. However, the upcoming Sports Illustrated story about Jason Collins feels tantamount to a big event. Jason Collins, a center who has played famously for the New Jersey Nets, the Boston Celtics, and most recently the Washington Wizards, is opening up to the magazine, in his own words:
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"I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay.
I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, 'I'm different.' If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand."
Though he's not the first athlete in history to come forward and say that he's gay, he is the first man on such a large, professional team sports to do so. His decision to make the announcement now stems from the fact that he is now a free agent, and doesn't worry about his personal life affecting his team. And so far, Collins' teammates have been really supportive.
Though it is an unfortunate reality that whenever an individual chooses to come out, it is still a huge deal, Collins' proclamation feels particularly poignant, because it directly confronts the stereotype that gay men aren't masculine, athletic, or tough. Collins' confronts that directly, citing his tendency to foul hard and play even harder.
"I go against the gay stereotype, which is why I think a lot of players will be shocked: 'That guy is gay?' But I've always been an aggressive player, even in high school. Am I so physical to prove that being gay doesn't make you soft? Who knows? That's something for a psychologist to unravel. My motivations, like my contributions, don't show up in box scores, and frankly I don't care about stats. Winning is what counts. I want to be evaluated as a team player."
Indeed, we don't normally write about the day-to-day goings on in sports, but today, this announcement feels far from ordinary. (Sports Illustrated)
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Photo: Via Sports Illustrated
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