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Commentary: Collins’ courage will change sports culture

Elsie Ramos, Sports Editor

Elsie Ramos, Sports Editor

It has been long overdue. Finally an active member of one the four major sports leagues in the United States has come out as an openly gay man.

NBA free agent Jason Collins broke Twitter the morning of April 29 with his announcement, via a Sports Illustrated essay, that he was gay.

While he is not the first athlete to come out, he is the first active male athlete to do so. What Collins did took courage and should be applauded.

He knew what the consequences of his actions might be: a team may not be willing to sign him for fear of distraction or other players might ridicule him, but he still did it.

For 34 years this man held on to this secret, and the burden he must have felt is something unimaginable. In his essay for Sports Illustrated, Collins wrote, “I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, ‘I’m different.’ If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.”

It is 2013, Collins raising his hand should not be a big deal. It should not matter who these athletes date or who they go home with after a game. As long as they are not committing crimes, who cares which sex is in bed with them?

The fact that Collins had to do this on the cover of a magazine shows how far the sports world has made steps to accepting all people. Hopefully, the next athlete will not have to come out through a magazine.

Players should not have to wait until retirement to come out of the closet because of fear of ridicule of teammates and coaches. They should be able to express themselves freely and be who they are.

If a straight athlete were to go to a club with his supermodel girlfriend, he would get praised or it simply would not be news. Hopefully the first time Collins steps out with his partner it will not be all over TMZ and every other gossip site. It is time we moved past this and just let them live.

While many NBA players, celebrities, athletes from other sports, former President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama praised Collins for his bravery, there were still many ignorant and derogatory comments made.

Those people and their responses do not deserve any attention from anyone.

The attention and focus should be on Collins and what he has done for the other gay athletes that are still trapped in the locker room wanting to come out, and for the rest of the people who are too afraid to raise their hands.

Elsie Ramos, a senior journalism major, is sports editor of the Campus Times. She can be reached by email at elsie.ramos@laverne.edu.

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