Sunday, May 26, 2013


When Jason Collins, a little-known, little-used NBA player announced he was gay on March
6, the media pretty much fell  all over themselves in celebrating Collins as the first active athlete
to come out in one of the four major professional sports. This was big, they said, as if a stampede
of gay athletes would come rushing out of the closet after Collins' announcement.

Much like the case with Manti' Te'o, if the mainstream media had done a little homework, it
would have discovered what there was to be discovered. Lenay Kakua didn't exist and a gay
athlete in one of the four major pro sports already did. Glenn Burke came out of the closet
during the late 70's with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Inside Sports, the now-defunct magazine,
produced an in-depth feature in 1982 on Burke being gay and the impact it had on the Dodgers.

Plus, there was some question of just how 'active' Collins really was. His season was already over
when he made the announcement and he was a free-agent. In addition, he only played in 39 games
of an 80-game season, and didn't even average a point a game. Collins was far more invisible than
truly 'active'. Because Collins is a 34-year old journeyman with 13 years of experience, there's a
chance that he might never be 'active' in the NBA again.

On Sunday night, Robbie Rogers of the LA Galaxy is going to be an 'active' gay professional
athlete when he takes the field. The New York Times, in an article about Rogers this morning,
wrote that Rogers is "poised to become the first openly gay male athlete in North America to
compete in a professional sport." I guess it missed the Glenn Burke story. Perhaps, they, like
so many others in the media, don't think it counts because it never appeared on Twitter,
Facebook, or the Fox News Channel, all of which didn't exist back then.

Burke was gay and he was open to his teammates about it. In the Inside Sports, Dodgers GM
Al Capanis, concerned about the team's pristine image, offered Burke to pay for his wedding
if he got married  Burke responded, "You mean to a woman?"

Rogers, who was playing for Leeds United in Europe, annnounced in his blog last February
that he was gay then abruptly retired. He received tremendous support from players and fans
around the world. Rogers is only 25-years old, and unlike Collins, still has a lot of tread on his tire and is good enough to have a future in the game.

That's what Rogers wanted, so he's taking the field just a few months after announcing he's gay.
Collins can enjoy the off-season with his celebrity as the first 'active' male athlete to come out
in one of the four major professional sports, even though he wasn't 'active' when he made the

Collins may never have to face what Rogers will on Sunday night and beyond. Rogers said
he is prepared for the heckling, etc. He also admitted that he feared fear itself in the New York
Times articles.

"I don't know what I was so afraid of," Rogers said. "It's been such a positive experience for me.
The one thing I've learned from all of this is being gay is not that big of a deal to people. ..."

I think he's right, especially in this day and age where people have there own things to worry
about like their next paycheck, the economy, and taking care of their families. I ran in the
Brooklyn Marathon last Saturday with 21,000 people. I looked around and asked myself, "Do
you think  anyone of these people care about Jason Collins being gay?" Not a chance.

Is everyone OK with being gay in our society? Hardly. There have been more than 25
hate crimes against gays in New York City this year. There are always going to be racists, bigots,
and haters no matter what. That's never going to change. We all know people who are. But
it's a small percentage of our population.

Rogers will become the first active openly gay player in the MLS and it will be a great moment
for him and other gays. He appears to be young, strong, and mentally tough to handle what
some people in the media think will follow him.

Rogers is the one who is showing great courage by coming out of retirement to be do what he
loves to do and make a statement. Collins could be going into retirement shortly and may never
have to face any kind of abuse from becoming the first 'active' male in a professional sport to
come out as gay.

The only one who is active now is Robbie Rogers and he is a true pioneer. He's the first openly
gay player in the MLS. Soccer might not be one of the four major professional sports in our
country, but it's pretty darn popular across the globe.

Congratulations to Robbie Rogers. He is setting an example and he'll be truly 'active' when
he does it.

1 comment:

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