Let’s be real: sports, specifically high school sports, are often awash in religion (thanks, FCA, you jackasses). And where there’s higher levels of Christianity you can bet there’s higher levels of homophobia. Which is why when a professional athlete comes out of the closet you know we’re making progress.
The first male pro athlete to come out of the closet is Jason Collins.
NBA center Jason Collins, a 34-year old journeyman, came out as gay in an op-ed in Sports Illustrated on Monday, becoming the first athlete in any of the major American leagues to do so while still an active player.
“I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport,” Collins wrote. “But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation.”
Collins is a good fit: he’s 7’0″ and 255 lbs. Who is going to say anything to that guy?
I grimaced waiting for the reaction from other athletes not named Chris Kluwe, and the first comment I read was from Kobe Bryant:
Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant on Monday applauded veteran Washington Wizards center Jason Collins, who became the first active player in all major American sporting leagues to come out of the closet.
Bryant, the fourth leading scorer in NBA history, passed along his well-wishes to Collins via Twitter:
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) April 29, 2013
It wasn’t the first time Bryant took a stand in defense of the LGBT community on Twitter. In February, the former MVP and five-time NBA champion reprimanded a Twitter follower who had used a homophobic slur.
God damn…I’ve never liked Kobe Bryant. I think he’s a ball hog. But maybe I can like him a little bit now…
And on the same day the New York Jets released Tim Tebow, opening up tons of opportunities for him in the Canadian Football League. Well played today, professional sports.