Wednesday, February 26, 2014

MEDIA FOOLS AND THE 'ACTIVE' GAY ATHLETE



Nine months ago, just about every media outlet in the country fell all over themselves when
Jason Collins announced he's was gay. The media proclaimed that Collins was the FIRST active
openly gay player in the four major professional sports leagues.

There was  one big problem with that statement: Collins was about as 'active' an NBA player
as I was. His season was over and as a 35-year old, end-of-the-bench, journeyman player who
was a free-agent, there was no guarantee he was going to be any more 'active' for the next
NBA season.

Meanwhile, Robbie Rogers, who had announced he was gay last February, signed with the
Los Angeles Galaxy and actually played a game on May 26, 2013, or less than a month after
the 'historic' decision by Collins. The media proclaimed Rogers to be the "first openly gay
man to play in a top North American professional sports league."  Oh, they seemed to be
saying it wasn't a 'major' league like the NFL, MLB, NBA, or NHL (can the NHL really
be considered a major sports league these days if they don't get more than a 1.0 national
rating?)


Fast foward to February 23, 2014. Word spreads that Collins is coming back for an 'historic'
return. He signed a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets. Once again, the media tripped
all over themselves. They said history was being made as Collins was the "first active openly
gay athlete in a major professional sport."

Hello? Isn't that what the media said nine months earlier about Collins? Was history repeating
itself with the same man in the same sport? And what about Rogers? Did he not get his due
just because he played professional soccer and not in the NBA?

It's funny how the sports media sees things these days and tries to determine what is history
and what is not and who makes it. Sheryl Swoopes, one of the best players in the history
of women's basketball who played in the WNBA announced that she was gay five years ago
and it's not big deal. Britany Grier, a dominant All-American at Baylor announced she was
gay after the WNBA draft and nobody even blinked.

Yet, Collins does it and the media wants to compare him to Jackie Robinson, which is
absurd in itself. What Robinson did is in a category all itself. NOBODY will ever do what
Robinson did and to compare the case of Collins and Robinson is absurd. Robinson endured
pure hate and racism. He had to eat in different restaurants and sleep in different hotels than
his teammates all because of the color of his skin. Fans spit and taunted him nearly every
single game his first year in MLB.

When Collins entered the game the other night against the Lakers, the fans gave him a
standing ovation, as well they should have. What Collins did required a decent amount of
courage, but it doesn't come close to the accomplishment of Jackie Robinson. Robinson
was launching a Hall of Fame career, Collins is at the end of an undistinguished one.

The media is making a far bigger issue out of this than the fans and players who've showed
unwavering support for both Collins and Michael Sam, the former Missouri football player
who announced he was gay less than a month ago to the media, but let his teammates
know in early August about his sexuality.



And what happened with Sam and his teammates? Absolutely nothing. Missouri had one
of its best seasons in school history and Sam became the SEC Co-defensive player of the year.
There were no fights in the locker room or Sam getting ostracized. I"m sure a few people
may have been uncomfortable people or some that mocked Sam, but that's just the nature
of our world.

Collins was treated just as was before he came out: with respect and as a professional.
I sometimes think the media wants to blow things up like players are going to be afraid
that Collins and Sam are going to attack players in the shower or nussle up to them on
the team bus. Good grief. The glorify guys like Ochochino, Terrell Owens, Dennis
Rodman, and Metta World Peace, and want to question the impact of high-character
guys like Collins and Sam in the locker room and their sexual orientation.

Players don't care, neither should the media. Its now a now issue to most people.

Those clowns at an Atlanta radio station mocked Steve Gleason, a dying man with ALS.
They got fired but it showed that it's just not gay people who are open to abuse. Teenage
girls taunt classmates to the point where they end up committing suicide. We live in a
a nation that makes fun of others who are not 'normal' or one of them.  People in the
West think everyone in New Jersey is just like the cast of 'Jersey Shore'. Those who've
never lived in the South, make fun of those dudes on 'Duck Dynasty', and everybody
makes fun of the Kardashians. Like it or not, that's just how most of us are.


I admire Collins and Sam for having the courage to do what they did. Do I think this
is going to open the floodgates for other gay athletes to come out? I highly doubt it. It's
a choice. Martina Navritalova was a gay athlete more than 20 years ago. Everybody knew
it. When television cameras panned to the stands and the announcers said, "there is
Martina's partner", I didn't they were talking about doubles tennis.

Navritalova didn't feel she had to announce to the world she was gay just because
the media wanted her to. It was her choice and she wanted to do it her way and probably
felt like it was nobody else's business.

It's not our business. It shouldn't be the media's either. Let people be who they are
and worry about your own

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