Musings On The Jason Collins Announcement

Jason-Collins

Jason Collins, a reserve NBA center, became a huge news story as well as symbol of increasing gay acceptance in America when he announced his sexual orientation in a Sports Illustrated cover story this week. This made him,technically at least, the first active athlete in one of the U.S’s major professional sports to “come out.” Since his team is not in the NBA play-offs, and since Collins is a free agent going into 2014, the NBA has yet to see its first openly gay player take the floor in a game, and Collins may not be the one who does it.

What does it all mean?

  • Collins is courageous.
  • I hate the fact that the state of celebrity economics, fame and popular culture makes me think like this, but it does: How can we know that Collins, a borderline and largely obscure NBA player nearing the end of his career, didn’t see a chance at the kind of fame, stardom and popularity, not to mention guest appearances, sponsorships and endorsements that have eluded him in his playing career, and grabbed it? We don’t. This was the kind of act that has nothing but good results whatever the motives of the actor, and so it is an ethical act by definition. Was it a truly selfless act, as it is being portrayed? I think Collins deserves the benefit of the doubt, but I sure have some.
  • The universal support he has received from the NBA players willing to be quoted is suspicious. I am sure the word went out from the NBA high command that denigrating comments would not be tolerated, and that is fine. These men work for the NBA, and their employer has every right to insist on decorum and the company line when the League is under a public relations microscope.
  • Even though Collins’ acknowledged sexuality should have no relevance to a team’s decision to sign him (or not), there is no way his future in the NBA can be separated from this announcement. As Nate Silver pointed out in today’s blog post, 34-year-old NBA centers like Collins don’t always find a place to play, no matter who or what they lust after. Yet if he is not signed, many will interpret it as a bigoted rejection of Collins by NBA teams because of his sexual orientation. If he is signed for 2014, others will see it as a public relations-dictated move having nothing to do with Collins’ basketball assets.
  • My guess is that Collins may be signed because of his basketball skills, but that the NBA will make certain that some team signs him for the other reason…so the league won’t look like a cabal of hypocrites. If I were NBA Commissioner, I would.
  • Collins continues a trend in such revelations: all the pro players in major sports who have identified themselves as gay have been obscure role-players and borderline professionals. This, in its own subtle and insidious way, reinforces anti-gay prejudices: the real men, you see, the stars, they are all heterosexual. Of course, they aren’t; there are a lot of gay superstars out there who would really make an impact if they leveled with the public, but apparently they feel they have nothing to gain and everything to lose. Maybe so. It would be a wonderful thing if one of them would follow Collins’ lead.
  • The only sport I follow carefully is baseball, and I know of at least four prominent players, two in baseball’s Hall of Fame, who are widely acknowledged to be gay in the communities in which they played. You may know of others. I’m sure the sportswriters know, and probably many players and team personnel as well. It is impressive that such secrets can still be kept in this day and age, and reminiscent of how Hollywood protected the privacy of gay actors like Raymond Burr, Robert Taylor, and actresses like Barbara Stanwyck. I think it shows the remarkable loyalty and respect those players built during their careers in those cities and within their professions.
  • The Collins story shows how strange and warped our values and priorities are. Why should the sexual orientation of a basketball player be a matter of any importance at all?  In a sport where a disgraceful number of stars have fathered children with multiple mothers and barely know their names, why is a gay player the object of moral scrutiny? How does his sexual orientation affect anyone, harm anyone, or tell anyone anything about his competence or character? It’s a big deal, but it shouldn’t be a deal at all. The fact that Collins is gay should be as irrelevant as his favorite color or his political affiliation. It is as irrelevant. I don’t want to know about the sexual orientations, fetishes, favorite sexual activities or anything else of that nature about anyone I work with or associate with; it’s none of my business and it has exactly zero impact on my regard for them.

We will know the United States has grown up regarding its attitudes and biases regarding sexuality when a Jason Collins announces that he is gay, and the unanimous response is, “So what?”

______________________________

Facts: New York Times

 

30 thoughts on “Musings On The Jason Collins Announcement

    • I just saw this story, and decided to leave it alone, applying rare restraint. I choose to look at it as among the life deceits many prominent gays think they are forced to engage in when they fear revealing their true selves will have negative personal and professional consequences.

      • I hear you, the one problem I have is that a “lavender engagement” or “lavender marriage” where the other party is deceived can end up hurting other people, cf. former NJ governor Jim McGreevey, who was married twice before coming out, whose second wife stated she would never have married him had she known he was gay, nor chosen a gay man to father their daughter.

        • Oh, what Collins did to his fiancee was wrong, no doubt about it—dishonest, cruel, unfair, terribly hurtful—and he is accountable for it. But when one feels they have to live a lie, others are bound to be hurt. We put Collins in this dilemma, and he didn’t handle it ethically, but he shouldn’t have had to handle it at all.

          • It’s “We put Collins in this dilemma…” that is disagreeable to me. It’s like saying that because of widespread, diverse and passionate contentions about abortion, “we put” millions of pregnant women into their “dilemmas.” Because passions against “illegal immigration” are so intense, “we put” thousands of employers into “dilemmas” of nanny-hiding and identity-forging, just to be able to keep enterprises viable by employing persons who reside illegally. Because we Western infidels are such…infidels…”we put” jihadists into their “dilemmas” (Do I blow myself up with a bunch of the infidels? Or do I try to kill just one of them at a time, and hope to kill more of them that way, before I am martyred and go to Paradise?)

            • It’s “We put Collins in this dilemma…” that is disagreeable to me. It’s like saying that because of widespread, diverse and passionate contentions about abortion, “we put” millions of pregnant women into their “dilemmas.”

              Your comparison works only if being gay is a choice. Fail.

              Because we Western infidels are such…infidels…”we put” jihadists into their “dilemmas” (Do I blow myself up with a bunch of the infidels? Or do I try to kill just one of them at a time, and hope to kill more of them that way, before I am martyred and go to Paradise?)

              So, discrimination is just like…doing nothing and being gay is just like desiring to do violence.

              You are horrible.

            • A rather willfully or naive statement, I’d say. For decades, gays have been forced to hide their sexuality and love interests or be stigmatized, ostracized, isolated and ruined. Read about Bill Tilden. Go see “The Children’s Hour.” Again–talk to any gay man who was an adult before Stonewall. How can you say we didn’t put Collins in this dilemma?

              Your comment suggests that you still believe, against all evidence, that being gay is a choice. It isn’t. That’s the first square on the road to Parcheesi…if you aren’t there yet, no wonder you’re lost!

  1. Mark Cuban will sign him.

    Anyone care to wager?

    He’ll definitely talk up a storm about signing him.

    In regards to your point: “Even though Collins’ acknowledged sexuality should have no relevance to a team’s decision to sign him (or not), there is no way his future in the NBA can be separated from this announcement. As Nate Silver pointed out in today’s blog post, 34-year-old NBA centers like Collins don’t always find a place to play, no matter who or what they lust after. Yet if he is not signed, many will interpret it as a bigoted rejection of Collins by NBA teams because of his sexual orientation. If he is signed for 2014, others will see it as a public relations-dictated move having nothing to do with Collins’ basketball assets.”

    I guarantee in our age of confusing ‘affirmative action’, no choice will be the right choice. Compared with an equal player, if he is picked it will be because he will sell a bunch more tickets and the signing team is a bunch of greedy capitalists, if he isn’t picked it will be because the signing team are a bunch of bigoted relics.

    • Bullseye, especially in light of the President’s complete lack of leadership on the major issues. This is just another retreat into soft and easy issues calculated to get applause.

  2. I always kind of think it’s funny to hear people saying they’re uncomfortable with gay athletes because of some notion that they will be lusting after the other men on the court. As a high school wrestler I occasionally had to take the mat against women, many of whom were very attractive- right up until the whistle blew and the headlocks started, at which point no mere high schooler (let alone pro athlete) can be bothered to think about who they’d like to do what with.

  3. Yet more venial bullshit for the masses to use to occupy their time.

    When a President of the United States can claim ignorance of details of a case like Gosnell, yet can find the time and attention to call a third-rate (at best) bench-warmer to say “atta-boy, sport”, we have deeper issue than whether some overpaid genetic anomaly prefers hotdogs over tacos.

    And I’ll say it here because I can’t be bothered with the other thread:

    Saying you don’t care for something, or think it is a sin, does not make someone a bigot. Everyone skips over where the man also said he thinks that premarital man-and-woman sex is a sin.

    • Saying you don’t care for something, or think it is a sin, does not make someone a bigot. Everyone skips over where the man also said he thinks that premarital man-and-woman sex is a sin.

      Having stupid beliefs about actions does not mean that other stupid beliefs about inherent traits can’t be bigoted.

      For instance, “I think whites are better than blacks” is bigoted, even if the person also thinks that the Red Sox are better than the Orioles.

      Okay…that wasn’t a good analogy, but it was fun. Here goes a real one: “My religion says women should be subservient to men. It’s a sin for a woman to act like a man” paired with “My religion says eating meat on Friday is a sin. It’s a sin to eat meat on Fridays”.

      • what you are missing (I hope on purpose) is where thinking that eating meat on Friday is a sin does not cause you to hate people who happen to like a steak for dinner the night before Saturday morning.

        Do you get the difference?

        I can think some action is a sin, but not hate the people who are committing the sin. I can even be good friends with people who commit the sin.

        • what you are missing (I hope on purpose) is where thinking that eating meat on Friday is a sin does not cause you to hate people who happen to like a steak for dinner the night before Saturday morning.

          Do you get the difference? I didn’t miss anything. I was saying that applying the term sin to something can be bigoted or not bigoted depending on what the thing is. Eating meat on Friday was the non bigoted side. The treatment of women was the side that was bigotry. Being gay is an inherent trait akin to being a woman.

          I can think some action is a sin, but not hate the people who are committing the sin. I can even be good friends with people who commit the sin.

          Yup. But when you say someone is bad because of an inherent trait, that’s bigotry, no matter how many times you let them use your bathroom.

          • The treatment of women was the side that was bigotry. Being gay is an inherent trait akin to being a woman.

            Still I tell thee, you are an idiot.

            Thinking something is a sin is not bigoted, period. If you then go and treat people committing that sin, that is bigotry.

            Do you understand the conceptual difference between “thought” and “action”?

            By your logic, it is not possible to be bigoted towards, say, republicans, or Cubs fans because those are not inherent traits. That is incorrect, and one can easily be bigoted towards those groups.

            It is also possible to think that it is damned fucking stupid to be a Cubs fan, but still see them as people and treat them the same as any other fan of any other club.

  4. The universal support he has received from the NBA players willing to be quoted is suspicious.

    He hasn’t received universal support from players. A couple did post some negative things on twitter.

    I am sure the word went out from the NBA high command that denigrating comments would not be tolerated, and that is fine. These men work for the NBA, and their employer has every right to insist on decorum and the company line when the League is under a public relations microscope.

    I don’t think the word had to go out again, the NBA has been quite clear on what they do when players say bigoted things, including bigoted gay things. They fine them. Hard. NBA stars Kobe Bryant, Joakim Noah, and Amare Stoudemire have all been fined for gay slurs, totalling 200K. Just the commonplace use of “gay” as a pejorative rates a hefty fine.

  5. . This, in its own subtle and insidious way, reinforces anti-gay prejudices: the real men, you see, the stars, they are all heterosexual.

    At least this one’s extremely easy to counter here. If being a 7 foot center that goes toe to toe with Shaq and Dwight Howard doesn’t make you a real man, I don’t know what does.

    I don’t want to know about the sexual orientations, fetishes, favorite sexual activities or anything else of that nature about anyone I work with or associate with; it’s none of my business and it has exactly zero impact on my regard for them.

    I think you made an unintentional implication here. The “I don’t want to know about your sexuality” logic is often used to suggest that gays should hide there boyfriends and wifes, when they don’t see any problem with straights referencing their girlfriends and husbands.

    • The list of people whose sex lives I want to hear ANYTHING about is very short and confined to either really hot women or guys MARRIED to really hot women.

      Unless you have sex on your front lawn, it is a personal thing, so shut up because I don’t wanna hear about it.

      Much in the same way I don’t give a damn about someone’s religion – offering any information without prompting is stupid – you don’t get extra points from Jesus because you told everyone on the bus you believe some spirit knocked a virgin up and the resulting dude came back to life after three days, following a life spent performing really neat magic tricks.

      • The list of people whose sex lives I want to hear ANYTHING about is very short and confined to either really hot women or guys MARRIED to really hot women.

        My point was that the revelation of someone’s sexual orientation is commonplace for heterosexuals. It happens all the time. There shouldn’t be a double standard where gays have to hide that they are gay.

        you don’t get extra points from Jesus because you told everyone on the bus you believe some spirit knocked a virgin up and the resulting dude came back to life after three days, following a life spent performing really neat magic tricks.

        Something we agree on! On a similar note, the calls for public prayer have been annoying me lately. I thought Jesus was all about not being ostentatious about your faith.

    • Well, I don’t mean it that way. One’s family, loved ones, associates and friends are not fetishes or sex acts, and where minds wander are not my concern. I don’t want to see any couple engaged in a sex act or hot and heavy groping where I’m eating or waiting for a street car, and I don’t care who or what it’s with.

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