On Monday morning, NBA veteran revealed to the world that he was gay. In a well written piece in Sports Illustrated, Collins told his story and announced that “he didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since he is, he’s happy to start the conversation.”
Collins, indeed, started the conversation. But he also created a few unintended consequences with his revelation.
The search for other gay athletes will heat up
On Tuesday, it was reported that Sports Illustrated recorded is biggest traffic day ever. The site pulled in 3.71 million unique visitors all thanks to Jason Collins. Every other website or news organization would gladly take half, or even a third of that amount of visitors for doing a story on the second or third gay athlete to come out of the closet.
So for better or worse, the race to find the next gay athlete willing to share his story is on. And while most would refrain from speculation and basically forcing someone out, there are those who won’t. That’s why former NFL player Wade Davis, who himself is gay, told Jason Whitlock on his podcast that he’s careful about hanging out in public with closeted gay athletes because he doesn’t want people speculating.
Anyone that disagrees with Collins’ lifestyle will be roundly criticized for doing so
Chris Broussard and Tim Brando have muddied the water a bit on this one. But their reactions aside, it seems it will be almost impossible for any athlete in any professional sport to publicly disagree with Collins’ lifestyle. Even if it’s done the right way.
No one can just simply say, “I wish Jason Collins the best, but I don’t agree with his lifestyle.” Because all that will be heard is, “I don’t agree with his lifestyle.” And from there, nothing but criticism awaits.
So we’re left with athletes tip-toeing around this subject. And coincidentally, Robert Griffin III tweeted on Tuesday something that sums this idea up perfectly.
If we speak..we say it the wrong wayIf we do not speak we are cowards….
— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) May 1, 2013
The wackos will come out in droves
The wackos coming out of the woodwork was an inevitable byproduct of Collins’ revelation, but it was certainly unintended. But now they’re here and Collins and the NBA have to deal with them.
Collins and the NBA are undoubtedly prepared to handle the wackos that are willing to protest outside of a playoff game. But are they prepared to handle a wacko inside the locker room.
Don’t think it’s a possibility that a) there is a wacko in a NBA locker room and b) he will say something wackos say? Don’t be naïve. There are wackos all around us.
Some will resent the NBA when Collins easily gets a job next season and possibly beyond
If we’re all honest, it’s fairly obvious that Jason Collins was probably in line for a job next season. Mainly because there’s just not many seven feet guys that are able to play in the NBA walking around. So almost by default, some team would probably pick him up to help with younger players and occasionally spell starting big men.
But this isn’t as cut and dry as it once was. Now the door is open for some other veteran to question why they’re out of the league and Collins isn’t. Now the door is open for some veteran to think to himself that Collins is holding a job that he shouldn’t have only because David Stern wants an ambassador in the league for gay issues.
Again, that won’t be the reason Collins is still in the league, but that wouldn’t stop some veteran with bills to pay and the desire to still play from thinking it is.
A much bigger name, if there’s one, will be chased back in the closet because of Collins’ move
Many believe that Collins has opened the door for other athletes to come out of the closet. I agree to some extent. It’ll never be easy, but Collins has definitely made it easier for some. But not all.
In fact, Collins may have made it harder for that big name to come out of the closet. The name that’s someone’s favorite player. The All Star. The pitch man for products. It’s harder for him now.
Personally, Collins put himself on the line with his revelation and that can’t be ignored. But professionally, Collins basically had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
The big name player? He risks losing everything. And now he can’t even lean on being first to take that risk. So what does he gain by taking that risk? Not much after Monday.
Jason Collins’ mission in all of this was just to tell his story. He’s not looking for the spotlight or trying to draw attention to himself. He also wasn’t looking to affect others with his revelation. But his revelation, though unintended, does affect some.