Jason Collins is no Jackie Robinson.
In 1947 there was an institutionalized discrimination against non-white athletes playing in major league sports. Jackie Robinson broke through that barrier not because he happened to have been a black man but because he was very, very good at playing baseball.
In 2013 there is no institutionalized discrimination against gay athletes, lesbian athletes, bisexual athletes or transgender athletes.
So what does Jason Collins think he is proving by telling everyone "I'm gay"?
Does that make him a better basketball player? I thought the whole point of sports as a multi-billion dollar commercial venture was to hire the best players possible, manage the team to the best of your ability and turn a profit by winning lots of games, selling lots of tickets and letting fans buy lots of over-priced beer.
So where does "I'm gay" figure into the scheme?
I've worked many jobs over the years. Including alongside individuals who were gay or lesbian. I respected them because of their talents and their abilities, and even sought to emulate their skills as professionals. What they did on their own time wasn't my business and they had the maturity to not make it anyone's business either.
I used to work in a sandwich shop. What would I have thought if one of my co-workers declared to everyone in the place "Look! I'm gay!"? Not much, truth be known. Maybe it's just me but I've never been able to tell the difference between a straight sandwich and a gay sandwich.
Jason Collins however may have shot himself in the foot with this one. He has put the emphasis on himself and his sexual orientation, not on his abilities as a player. That has never been a good thing for the morale of a sports team. If I were the owner of an NBA team, I would have to deem Collins a liability to my franchise. If Collins goes no further with his career, he'll get lauded as a "sports pioneer". If he decides he wants to keep playing professionally well... that's the thing, isn't it? How many team owners are going to turn Collins down at the risk of being branded "homophobe" by the media? Even if bringing him aboard solely because of his orientation means surrendering legitimately superior talent?
"Culturally progressive"? Whatever. But it sure as hell isn't good business.
It used to be that a person's merit and identity was base on his talents, his abilities, his beliefs and his virtues. Today the notion of "identity" has become diminished to the point of meaningless. Too many people want to feel significant and important because they feel entitled to it and not because they've earned it. And there is no more cheap and gutteral way of demanding respect for that alleged identity than to say "I'm gay! LOVE ME!"
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