In an article for “Sports Illustrated” last year, NBA center Jason Collins came out and became the first openly gay NBA player who at the time of his statement was still active. When Collins announced his sexual orientation to the world, he became the first male professional athlete playing in the United States to state that he is gay.
After his retirement from the NBA in 2007, John Amaechi became the first NBA player to come out when he identified himself as a homosexual in his book “Man in the Middle”. Amaechi’s statement stimulated controversial discussions regarding homosexuals in the NBA and in professional sports. Sports analysts had a field day with Amaechi’s claim. Meanwhile, sports figures reacted to the news. While Amaechi’s statement made headlines across the world, some may argue that it was not merely as controversial as Collins’ claim. Why? Because Amaechi was retired when he came out. On the other hand, Collins is still active.
“I think everyone has the right to their own beliefs and they should do what they want to do,” said a senior captain on the hockey team. “Whether they are gay or straight, they should be able to have the same opportunities that every other athlete has.”
Upon the release of his statement, Collins received support from NBA players across the league. Not only did NBA players post their public displays of support but he also received words of encourage from President Barack Obama.
While Collins is paving the way for other professional athletes to embrace their homosexual sexual orientation, former NFL player Dave Kopay was the first athlete to identify himself as a homosexual. Since then, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community has become accepted in almost all circles of life. Therefore, most LGBT people have no problem with being comfortable with their sexual orientation. In turn, some athletes have done the same.
In this year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, there are seven openly gay athletes and all of them are women.
Ireen Wüst and Sanne van Kerkhof are Dutch speed skaters. Also Dutch, Cheryl Maas is a snowboarder. Daniela Iraschko-Stolz is an Australian ski jumper and Belle Brockhoff is an Australian snowboarder. Barbara Jezeršek is a Slovenia cross-country skier and Anastasia Bucsis is a Canadia speed skater. These seven openly gay participators have made this year one of the most “colorful” Winter Olympics to date.
Due to the steadily growing acceptance of openly gay athletes in the world of sports, many may argue that it is admissible for athletes to come out. However, some may argue otherwise.
So far, Jason Collins has not been signed to a team since the start of the 2013-2014 NBA season. Interest in the 35-year-old center is at a premium. While some may claim that at this point in his career, Collins does not serve as an offensive threat and is not worthy of higher than the third center position. Most people would argue that Collins is a modest player at best with a dismal career stat line of 3.6 points and 3.8 rebounds a game. Thus, it is possible that an NBA team would be taking a risk by signing Collins. Nonetheless, others may argue that Collins is an unwanted commodity because he is the first openly gay NBA player.
“If they [homosexual athletes] are as good or better than straight athletes, it shouldn’t matter,” said hockey team captain. “An athlete is an athlete.”