Paul Wilson: The Incredible Lightness of Jason Collins Coming Out

Screen shot 2013-05-01 at 12.44.40 AMIs Jason Collins another Jackie Robinson?

No effing way. And that’s too bad, because Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi tweeted as much, and while there are many things he’s written that I agree with, Taibbi couldn’t be more off base on this one. It’s not only inaccurate, it’s an insult to Robinson’s legacy.

Bear in mind, I’m a total sports agnostic.

I barely know what season it is and follow no one in the sports world, so it was no real surprise when I didn’t know who Jason Collins was. Come to find out from my sports addicted friends, he’s hardly a household name.

Yahoo Sports Andrew Sweat ranks Collins one of the 10 worst NBA players ever. Last year Collins earned $1.3M and he has total career earnings of $31M. I find it interesting that he’s going to earn many times most people’s lifetime earnings while being a esteemed member of the 10 Worst Club!

Screen shot 2013-05-01 at 12.39.57 AMYou gotta love professional sports!

It was pointed out to me last night by my very well read son-in-law that Collins is not even really the first. A man named Glenn Burke, played for the Dodgers in the 70’s and was the first and only Major League Baseball player known to have been open about his homosexuality with his team and owners. During his career.

13360959_114012350236He was so open about it, in fact, that during the ’77 off season, rumors became so rampant the Dodgers became concerned and team VP Al Campanis offered Burke $75,000 to get married!  Burke rejected their offer and asked Campanis, “I guess you mean to a woman?”

“They can’t ever say now that a gay man can’t play in the majors, because I’m a gay man and I made it,” Burke said.

He was even named by Huff Post Gay Voices – the LGBT Icon of the Month – and he discussed his sexuality in 1982 in Inside Sports magazine and on “The Today Show” with Bryant Gumbel. Burke died from AIDS in 1995.

But with the words, “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay”, Collins has somehow managed to become “the first.” He then wrote, “I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation.”

Well, Jason, I’m happy to have that conversation too.

So back to the topic at hand, is Collins another Jackie Robinson?

Not even close.

There are places where being gay in sports is common but still somewhat of a secret – an open, hidden fact. Take Ladies Professional Golf, Softball, Ladies Basketball and Bowling.

OK, maybe not bowling so much, but you know what I’m saying. There have probably always been many gay men playing in the big four sports – 50 years ago, today and on into the future. They’re there and they always have been.

170px-Jackie_Robinson_No5_comic_book_coverHowever there weren’t 50 black guys in baseball when Jackie played. And he didn’t just decide one day to say, “Hey, I’m BLACK and I want to be open about it!”

And then the other 49 black men said, “OK, we’re black TOO…”

No, Jackie Robinson was a first. There’s simply no basis for comparison.

Collins will never walk onto the court to the sound of Philadelphia Phillies  manager Ben Chapman yelling “Nigger, Nigger, Nigger….” as the crowd cheers and supports Chapman as they did in the movie 42. He will never walk back to the bench with voices coming from the bench asking which guy he’s having sex with. Collins will never have to get up in the middle of the night and leave his hotel room for fear of his life.

Collins can travel on the same plane as his teammates. He can sleep in the same hotel, drink from the same fountain, eat at the same table and go to the same clubs. He won’t be chased by dogs, have fire hoses turned on him or have to sit in the back of the bus – I mean, plane. And Collins can and always has been able to cast his vote in any election he chooses.

Does Collins face some issues in today’s world? Sure, and I wouldn’t detract from that for a minute.

McCaskill Making WavesChris Broussard of ESPN’s Outside the Lines said, “Personally I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle …. I think that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ.”

Kobe Bryant was fined $100K in 2011 for calling a ref a “faggot” after a foul call he felt he didn’t deserve. Kobe has now also become more nuanced and tweeted, “Proud of @jasoncollins34. Don’t suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others #courage #support #mambaarmystandup #BYOU

Congratulations, Kobe, you and Claire McCaskill have seen the light!

But has Collins really done anything much here? What has he risked at this stage of his game? Much like Claire, has he come around when there was nothing left to lose?

He’s 34 and he’s not been picked up by any team. Why didn’t he do this 10 years ago? I can’t get inside his head, so I don’t know, but I’d guess it’s a last minute PR move. Maybe this will get him a color commentary gig. It will most certainly get him on the speaker’s circuit. But he’s got nothing to lose by coming out now.

Screen shot 2013-05-01 at 12.39.57 AMJackie, had everything to lose.

And likely little to gain. I bet in Robnson’s mind, he thought he was rolling the dice with his life.

Collins simply is NOT Robinson, no matter how much I admire what he did this week.


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21 Responses to Paul Wilson: The Incredible Lightness of Jason Collins Coming Out

  1. rkcal says:

    Well done.

  2. Jim Kersten says:

    I do applaud his measure of courage. However, I’m down with Dennis Miller’s observation. He was able to come out as: black, 38, an NBA Center, and gay, I wish for him the fortitude to admit he plays for the Wizards.

    Equal to Jackie R? Puhlease. In fact, one might question his timing in its juxtaposition to the release of ’42.’ Is there a chance he (or his handlers) were hoping for a little lift from the movie’s popularity… And by extension, Jackie’s legacy?


  3. paulwilsonkc says:

    I bow to the skills of one Jim Kersten! Your comment starts, you applaud the MEASURE of his courage. I agree, that was the theme; just what was the measure? Admitting association with the Wizzzzards was likely more painful, or so I’m told. Thanks for your comment.

  4. Super Dave says:

    He’s terrible, his career sucks and he came out of the closet hoping to boost his career or media attention. No story here, move along folks.

  5. paulwilsonkc says:

    I BOW to your skills, Jim, not”now”. I hate early morning, no glasses and autocorrect!

  6. paulwilsonkc says:

    And Jim, SD, Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi tweeted, “Jason Collins IS Jackie Robinson! I like Taibbi a lot, he’s out there, writes some thought provoking stuff, but that tweet just blew me away.

  7. chuck says:

    Yeah real hero.

    He was engaged to Carolyn Moos (A girl) for 8 years, never mentioned that he was gay or participating in any risky life styles, and the media immediately embarks on a Jason Collins apotheosis heard throughout the realm.

    Maybe we all ought to wait up a bit, until the blood tests come back on Ms. Moos to see if this guy qualifies for a spot on Mt. Rushmore.

    8 YEARS!

    Oh yeah, honey, just in the interest of full disclosure, we are gonna get married and everything, I blew a trucker last night.

    Look, I got no problem with the gays. Luv ’em, get married get fu*ked I don’t give a sh*t, I support gay marraige etc.

    But the ascendancy of a narrative which includes ANTHING that remotely destroys the Judeo/Christian paradigms our fathers and father’s fathers fought for has gons so far east on the bellcurve that I wouldn’t be surpirsed to see Pee Wee Herman get a posthumous congressional medal of honor from obama for floggin his dolphin in a movie theater.

    Is he dead?

    Anyway, you get my point.

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Great, just great…. thanks for blowing my Friday story: Pee Wee Herman Nominated for Congressional Medal of Honor.
      Now what…………?

      • the dude says:

        Pee Wee should get the medal of honor for his awesome show Pee Wee’s Playhouse, not because he got caught beating the bishop.

        WHO CARES.

      • cheech lifting weights says:

        Cowboy Curtis is our Attorney General

        • the dude says:

          Man I wish.

          I vote Miss Yvonne for Secretary of State but that position already got filled by some windsurfing, catsup mongering hippie.

  8. paulwilsonkc says:

    Chuck, I can honestly say……I’ve NEVER missed getting your point! You kind of laser beam it in there pretty much in a style we share even if the opinions aren’t always aligned! Thank you, kind sir.

  9. b12 says:

    The “sell by” date on this story has already passed. That is the beauty of the 24 hour news cycle and the irrelevancy of the printed periodical. Coupled with the “huh, who’s that?” initial response to Jason Collins’ name…this was a time filler for the day after the NFL draft grades were issued, and the day before we move on to the next shocking revelation.

    If he was a player with name recognition, currently under contract to a team, and had “revealed” this at the beginning of the season rather than the end; I would applaud his “courage” a little more.

    As it is, it’s basically a yawn. No comparison to Jackie Robinson’s journey.

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      B12 – I agree totally, but I think it expired BEFORE the announcement.

      • admin says:

        Say what you will about the shelf life, this story is still going strong online. Check it.

  10. balbonis moleskine says:

    The media wants us to care about this story SO BAD. But people don’t. It is actually quite amusing.

    The World Wide Leader even set up one of their lesser talking heads for a digital lynching with no success or further interest in the story.

    I love it when a media created story fails to come together.

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Balbonious, Im so deeply hurt you didnt respond that this was another brilliant piece from “our genuinly coiffed scribe” that I can’t even reply.

  11. smartman says:

    The LGBT crowd is starting to piss me off more than the Urban Scholars.

    They want equality but demand their own festivals, parades, bars, greeting cards and TV shows. Queer as Folk, The L Word, American Idol, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Mad Men.
    What would Archie Bunker watch if he were alive today?

    The model for sexual equality is the chronic masturbator. They ask for little. Some lotion, Kleenex or an old sock. They go about their business and contribute to society without having to shout, YO! Look at what I just did every time they spill some mancake batter.

    Tolerance is great but the first time a gay, NBA, NFL, MLB or NHL player is out with the team sharing some adult beverages and slips some tongue to his partner, lover or waiter he’s getting his *ss kicked.

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Smarty, I made the comment to a friend of mine yesterday, an ultra high end custom car painter. I asked him if he would ever consider going after a commission to do a car, and among his qualifications, in his presentation, note, “By the way, I AM black, a hetrosexual and have a hot wife I sleep with nightly….” Of course not.

      My opinion in all of this is equality CAN NOT and WILL NOT be reached until theres NO EARTHLY REASON TO TALK ABOUT EQUALITY! Combine with that, the Jesse Jacksons and Rev Al’s have NO interest in equality because they are out of work if that day came!

      As long as its a constant news story its not going to be “equal”. As long as there is the NAACP, National Negro College Fund and PRIDE parades, I dont see it coming. If people would RESPECT peoples own personal rights, we’d get there a lot faster. As long as you set yourself apart and call notice to the “difference” that “difference” will remain.

      And on a side note, I was actively involved for years in getting people out of Ethiopia during the civil war. They came here with nothing. And by nothing, I mean… .nothing. They first thiing they did was plant themselves in front of a TV. Why? Thats how they learned English! And the did it FAST! They save money like no ones business, and, besides being some of the most beautiful people on the face of the earth, support their own community and end up highly successful. Look at all the nationalities that come her and become a success with NO outside help. No concern for “equality”; they just make it happen.

      The mind is a terrible thing…

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