Whether or not you like it, Jason Collins is gay. There’s no debating that fact. We don’t know if his courage will inspire others. But, no matter what happens in the future, Collins did what he needed to do to insure a happier existence. That’s honorable enough.
Yesterday, my car failed inspection and some reaction to Collins’ announcement did too. It’s not worth pretending that everyone’s comfortable with homosexuality. It’s also not worth arguing personal beliefs. As if the word “personal” isn’t clue enough.
There are times when it’s worth a long sit-and-think session about sports in our time. The glamorous highlight shows and the immediate stories delivered to a personal computer create a realm. This realm of statistics and story lines is open to interpretation.
It’s easy to compare in this sports world. We want to see if Kobe Bryant’s stats line up with those of Michael Jordan. When a team goes on a skid or streak, we find value in similar circumstances. There are common denominators to help us drive the road of fandom.
Outside the games and historical comparisons, the human condition still exists among athletes. It’s something I’ve touched on before and seems worth noting again.
There are billions of people on earth. They all exist in a similar manner, yet each is different. Like the snowflakes we learn about in kindergarten, no two are the same. But, similarities remain among us. For every six-foot, 160-pound sports writer, there is another one. While only one person reached the peak of Mount Everest for the first time, there are many other mountain climbers.
This world contains many straight people. In turn, there are many gay people as well. These definitions of sexuality aren’t confined to everyday life. There’s no bubble that separates athletes from the real world in the human element. As I am a human, so too are Bryant and Jordan. We hold significance in our individual types, but we are all the same at the core.
For as much acclaim as should be given to Collins for his bravery, the individualism can be confusing. Yes, he should be applauded and noted as the first gay NBA player to come out. But no, he shouldn’t be seen any differently than the Joe at the gym or the Dave at the grocery store. They – like Collins – are likely doing whatever they can to move towards a happier life. That’s something worthy of praise.
There was a time when I lacked adequate judgment and stood looking at this grand globe with frustration. I was puzzled, lost and weary. Anger and attitude seemed to be the way to go, as they remained in my heart wherever I went. It was difficult for me to embrace others, as I could hardly embrace myself.
An old man who became a close friend told me something that changed my life. He didn’t communicate it because he felt I needed it – but, boy did I need it. “The point of this life is to possess unconditional love for mankind,” he said.
That was the final answer. It touched me then, and it touches me now. I wish that I’d operate with it in the front of my mind more often. I don’t need you or anyone else to believe what I believe. It’s not up to me to proclaim what’s right or wrong. There’s nothing to tip me off to where the rubber must meet the road.
All I know is that Collins isn’t like every other NBA player. Yet, he’s exactly like all of them at the same time. As I am with you, and as you are with me. We are different, and so similar. We are people. On ESPN, those high-priced and frequently televised athletes are people too. They struggle with tough decisions, and courage sometimes peeks through.
It came through on Monday. It shined through like a beam of light across a dew-covered valley on an early spring morning. There, we could see all of what we felt and believed and held true. While all of that seemed so important, it was of the smallest significance.
What mattered most is what always does. Our love for Jason Collins – as the common man – allowed us to cheer his pursuit of happiness.
Sports are all I know. Writing came naturally. Sports writer by night & sports writer by night. Philosophy major who thinks the unexamined sport is not worth watching. Always for hire, never for sale. I believe that silence is the virtue of fools and I can't hear you.