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Not Suprised By Jason Collins

I would like to tell you I had little reaction to the news that Jason Collins is gay because we are at a point where someone’s sexual orientation does not and should not matter.  That’s true but I would be a liar if I said that’s why Collins’ disclosure Monday was not all that stunning. 

Jason Collins
Jason Collins (Getty Images)

An NBA journeyman for 12 years, the 34-year old is the first active male athlete in one of the major American team sports to publicaly come out and say he is gay.  Collins made the admission in a first-person account that appears on Sports Illustrated’s website and is also the cover story in this week’s magazine.

In the beginning of the story Collins writes “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 already have done this.  Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.”

Let me go back to my opening line about not being shocked by the news.  Part of that is we know Collins is not the only gay pro athlete competing today in basketball, baseball, hockey and football.  Numbers alone tell you there are others, maybe quite a few but they simply have chosen to remain private although I would not be surprised if others follow Collins’ lead.  However I have to admit that part of my reaction…or actually having little reaction is due to the fact that Collins is not a big name and is clearly at the end of his career.

Jason Collins Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated, Jonathon Daniel/Getty Images

How many people even knew he played this season?  He did…a total of 38 games for the Wizards and Celtics in which he averaged 1 point per game.  While the free agent Collins says he would like to continue playing in the NBA his disclosure might not be as impactful as that of a current star player in one of the major sports.  What will be interesting is to see if a team signs him for next season.

Regardless his coming out is courageous and support came from all over Monday including praise from President Obama, many NBA players and Massachusetts congressman Joe Kennedy III, his roommate  at Stanford.  Collins admitted that it was Kennedy who helped inspire him by marching in Boston’s Gay Pride Parade last year even though he is straight.

So if Jason Collins is the Jackie Robinson of his day then who becomes the next Larry Doby?  We might not have to wait long to find out and that in itself is another step in the right direction.

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