It is risky business when you talking about issues relating to sexual orientation in sports, but I figured that my personal view on the matter would make it easier for me to speak on the subject. I believe that everyone has the right to choose who they love, just as they have the right to choose how they want their coffee before they head to work in the morning.
No one should be judged for his or her personal matters when it comes to work; it is just the respectful thing to do and say. Sadly, the world does not work so flawlessly.
Jason Collins took center stage and became a leader in the gay community when he publicly announced that he was homosexual. Since then, the issue has caught fire worldwide. There is a picket fence separating supporters of gay rights and the religious followers who stand against those same rights. Collins’ status as a basketball player brings even more attention upon the situation.
The world of sports is typically known as a “real man’s” domain. Everyone should agree that the players have right to take issue with a having a gay teammate, but it’s something that should be left to ponder on off the field, not when you’re trying to win Super Bowls and raking in millions of dollars.
When Collins made the announcement, everyone figured that it would be a start of a revolution throughout the sports world. However, no one followed in Collins’ footsteps — that is until one college football player, Michael Sam of the University of Missouri, announced that he was gay.
Sam’s announcement was very reminiscent of Collins’. Like Collins, Sam received massive support from millions of people including fans, writers and players alike. It was very clear that Sam and Collins had support. For Collins, the support was not strong enough to land him on an NBA roster. Teams were understandably resistant to bring him in along with the media circus.
Sam is eligible to be drafted in the 2014 NFL Draft. Franchises will sadly think about how his sexual preference will affect the locker room before they pull the trigger on selecting Sam. Everyone knows he is a good football player and a hard worker. He is easily a third- or fourth-round pick, but it will ultimately be up to the 32 organizations on draft day.
Collins, now 35 years-old, has sat by quietly awaiting his opportunity to be the first openly gay player in the NBA. The second half of the regular season just kicked off, making Collin’s chances of getting signed seem slim. Surprisingly, rumors say that his playing days may not be over after all. The Brooklyn Nets worked out Collins in Los Angeles sometime this week. They are said to be strongly considering making Collins the first openly gay player.
I honestly do not know if Brooklyn will be the best place for him to make this type of history, mostly due to the media barrage that will come with his signing. If Collins is okay with the cameras in his business 24/7, then it may be a good fit, especially since he played an extended portion of his career with the New Jersey Nets.
Collin claims that he is in the best shape of his life, so it may not be as big of a gamble as most of us make it out to be. I am more concerned about his personal security than I am about him getting back on the floor.
With the NFL Draft in a few months, Sam could benefit from Collins’ signing — that is if he gets signed. The NFL locker room may have an entirely different atmosphere than a NBA locker room, but a sport is a sport. Men and women sweat and bleed every day in hopes of having success as a professional. Collins’ signing would be the start to the revolution that everyone thought would have came by now.
Gay players should not have to hide in the shadows, afraid of what a select few groups of people will think about them. They deserve to be just as comfortable as the next person on the job is. Collins and Sam have the chance to change the course of sports history, and no one should stand in their way — unless you are ready to walk along with them.