Collins Comes Out



One man. Two boys. Twelve kids.

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64 Responses

  1. Avatar greginak says:

    Good for him. I vow to root for whatever team he plays for if for some reason i’m stuck watching a basketball game.Report

  2. Avatar Maribou says:

    “Things can change in an instant, so why not live truthfully?”

    Amen to that.Report

    • Avatar Murali in reply to Maribou says:

      “Things can change in an instant, so why not live truthfully?”

      Because society can be vicious and the pain of hiding a part of yourself is less than the social ostracism you would get for living truthfully.Report

      • Avatar Maribou in reply to Murali says:

        Well, sure. It was an existential rather than a prescriptive amen. I suspect it was an existential rather than a prescriptive why not, judging from the context.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Murali says:

        This is why we ought not to criticize people who do not want to come out for not doing so. With that said, people like Collins make it easier for the next athlete to find the courage to risk ostracism, and then it’s even easier for the third until eventually, it’ll become no big deal, like a player proclaiming that he’s found Jesus or found Allah or something like that which we all realize now doesn’t make a lick of difference in what really counts, which are the player’s fantasy stats.Report

      • Avatar Jonathan McLeod in reply to Murali says:

        This is one of the saddest comments I’ve read at The League.Report

  3. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    By the way, the usual caution applies. If you follow the link to the ESPN story, do not read the comments lest you end up regretting ever having learned to read.Report

  4. Over the past couple of years, I’ve given talks about anti-gay bullying. I’ve always noted that the famous openly gay men out there came almost exclusively from the arts, and that there was not one single openly gay man on the active rosters of a major American team sport.

    I am delighted to find that I’ll have to update my presentation. I think this is huge. There have got to be gay kids out there who can’t relate to Cam and Mitchell on “Modern Family” but will find in Collins someone to look up to. I commend his courage and wish him every continuing success.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Russell Saunders says:

      I have a colleague who saw the headline before I did and inquired as to why it needed to be a headline. Her point was that this should just be what is nowadays and it shouldn’t require a “BREAKING NEWS” alert. I had to explain to her that the sports world is not like the rest of the world (or the rest of American society at least) and the locker room has often (and rightfully) become the last bastion of socially acceptable homophobia. I hope that Collins can serve as a role model. Thus far, every response I’ve read has been positive, including that from Kobe Bryant, who previously got himself in hot water after uttering the F-word in frustration at a referee.Report

  5. Avatar greginak says:

    It will be interesting to see if more athletes come out in the next days or weeks. Talk about massive cultural changes.Report

  6. Avatar Shazbot5 says:

    Yeah, I think this is a big deal, too.

    Once being openly gay (as a character and actor) was done once on TV in a sort of high profile way, the dominos started to fall quickly, and gay characters became more and more normalized. (Still not entirely normalized, but getting better.)

    We might see the same thing in professional sports. Hopefully.Report

  7. This is absolutely a big deal, and the overwhelmingly positive response from his fellow NBAers has been pretty impressive. Collins deserves tons of credit for his courage, and he will be remembered as a pioneer even if he never plays another game. On the other hand, it’s also unfortunately worth pointing out that it’s quite possible – in my mind, even likely – that he will never, in fact, play another game, if only because he’s an aging player without a contract. Nate Silver has a good comparison to similar types of players here:

    Notice that the player with the fewest games played in the group discussed by Silver is none other than Jason Collins after the 2011-2012 season, and only Aaron Williams appears on that list twice, meaning that for a player like Collins to catch on again in the NBA for another year would be quite rare. Then again, otherwise healthy 7-foot centers aren’t exactly in abundant supply, so he has a reasonable chance to beat the odds.Report

    • I wonder how many players were told in advance, “This is going to happen eventually and you’re going to be asked for your reaction, and here’s what, the team is going to really care if your reaction is the right one. And you’d better believe that there will be a right reaction and a wrong reaction.”Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Burt Likko says:

        It’s possible. Espn had a sampling of Tweets, all of which were positive save for one, which was from an NFLer. It wasn’t wholly negative but might tip to the “wrong” side of the line. Of course, some folks are going to do what they’re going to do no matter what they’re told. Given that the Tweets were unsolicited, I assume they were genuine.Report

  8. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    From the SI story:

    I enter the court knowing I have six hard fouls to give.

    Who’d have thought the first gay NBA player would be a thug?Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      I actually remember Collins from his college career. He had a medical redshirt in what was arguably the greatest season in Stanford basketball history (’97-98), on which his brother was a key contributor (his brother was a better college player). Unfortunately for the Cardinal, they ran up against the greatest program in college basketball (in my wholly unbiased opinion) in the semifinals of the NCAA tournament, and lost in one hell of a game.

      I’m not sure I knew he was still in the NBA.

      Also, he and his brother, along with Earl Watson, played a role in the scandal that got Jim Harrick fired. They didn’t do anything wrong, of course. They were high school kids at the time.Report

  9. Avatar North says:

    Best of luck to him.Report

  10. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    And Matt Welch proves himself to be an idiot:

    Broussard is predictably getting beaten to a rhetoric pulp on Twitter. And while I think today is a wonderful, watershed day for people (especially the artist formerly known as Ron Artest) to live as open and free as they wanna be, I agree with the New York Post editorial Robert George here:

    Chris Broussard spoke what more than a few players feel. If such comments aren’t expressed, a real conversation can’t be had.

    Broussard expressing himself is freedom. People expressing themselves by criticizing him is censorship.Report

    • Avatar Bob2 in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      When Reason writes an article about how you can’t be a Randian Christian, or how we should let people say the N-word on ESPN because censorship, maybe I’ll give them another look instead of this white privilege drivel that’s completely ahistorical.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Bob2 says:


        Can you elaborate on this? I’m not sure I follow and want to make sure I understand your point before responding.

        To Mike, I’d say that while I disagree with Broussard’s point, I don’t think what he said should necessarily result in any action against him (though I fully respect ESPN’s right to do so… unless doing so wades into 1st Amendment territory at which point I put my head down and will mutter to myself for a while… which isn’t to say he wouldn’t have a claim but instead points out just how impossible that damn Amendment is to navigate… but I’ve digressed). And I don’t think we should tell people not to criticize him. Free speech should be responded to with free speech, etc, etc, etc.

        But if people are arguing that Broussard shouldn’t have said what he said or should be fired for doing so, I have an issue with that argument. The truth is that there ARE a lot of people who share similar or (in my eyes) worse feelings on the matter and these people are likely disproportionately present in the sports world. His comments allow us to have a conversation that needs to be had. Perhaps yesterday wasn’t the day, but some day soon should be. So, people should feel free to respond to Broussard’s comments as they see fit. But urging those folks to be mindful in how they do so because of a possibility that their course of action stifles a necessary conversation is not censorship.

        I saw a speaker on Saturday who asked the following question: “How open minded am I being if I expect everyone to be open minded?”Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Kazzy says:

          But if people are arguing that Broussard shouldn’t have said what he said or should be fired for doing so, I have an issue with that argument.

          Should they be prevented from making those arguments?Report

          • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mike Schilling says:

            No… is anyone seeking to prevent them?Report

            • Avatar Bob2 in reply to Kazzy says:

              Is it really a necessary conversation or a good starting point for Broussard to say that Collins is a sinner that isn’t really a Christian? and implicitly that’s going to hell because of that if he doesn’t repent?
              Maybe he should read Collins’ piece about how fearful he was for 33 years because of precisely this sort of thing and absorb some of it.Report

            • Avatar Bob2 in reply to Kazzy says:

              Is it really a necessary conversation or a good starting point for Broussard to say that Collins is a sinner that isn’t really a Christian? and implicitly that’s going to hell because of that if he doesn’t repent?
              Maybe he should read Collins’ piece about how fearful he was for 33 years because of precisely this sort of thing and absorb some of it.Report

    • Avatar kenB in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      But isn’t Matt Welch just criticizing the criticizers the same way they’re criticizing Broussard? In what way is he calling for censorship any more than they are?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to kenB says:

        I said he was an idiot, not a censor, yet another yahoo who confuses freedom of speech with freedom from criticism.Report

      • Avatar Bob2 in reply to kenB says:

        Let me reframe what Welch is saying.

        Christians will be afraid to speak up if they fear they will be attacked socially. They want to have their cake and eat it too in the safety of the majority basically.
        Ironically, gay people speaking up often led to raids and beatings at one point. I doubt anything will happen to Broussard.

        During Prop 8, some of these people felt they could sign a petition against gay marriage, but not deal with the consequences. They didn’t want their names on a public list of petitioners because they feared that their businesses would be boycotted in California by gays and gay friendly people.Report

  11. Avatar Bob2 says:

    Kazzy, this conversation didn’t start the day Jason Collins came out, so it’s bit disingenuous for Welch to write like there’s a blank slate the day he writes a piece, especially given the context where Collins felt like he couldn’t say anything lest he lose his job in basketball. Discussions over Griner, Mauresmo, Jon Amaechi, Esera Tuaolo, Glenn Burke, Billy Bean, etc. all predated this. Also, Welch’s usage of Jackie Robinson and MLK were classic examples of cherry picking what he wanted to hear from their writings as well, and not necessarily what’s historically accurate.

    Broussard’s written stuff in the past, and it’s pretty obvious he was being used to draw ratings from ESPN last night given that they already knew what he believed. Welch didn’t take this into account or even finding out anything about Broussard beforehand.
    I will also say it’s kind of rich that he wrote “there are many scientists on both sides of the genetic debate, and I believe a truly objective person would admit the biological evidence for homosexuality is far from definitive.” when his reasoning for disapproving of others is based on religion and not fact, and furthermore, he and many others misreads their own Bible and know little about its history before being written into Greek and then English.

    Sometimes, the best way of letting change happen is exactly what I’m saying about people saying the N-word. To socially shame people into at least not inflicting their small mindedness on another generation by signalling what they’re saying makes little sense in a pluralistic society. That Welch doesn’t recognize this kind of criticism of Broussard as legitimate is rather sad.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Bob2 says:

      Thanks, Bob. I didn’t read Welch’s whole piece, so I can’t really comment on it.

      What I will say is that people should feel empowered to denounce bigotry. But meeting bigotry with bigotry does no one any service. I think Broussard’s comments should be engaged with, though I consider denouncing them to be a form of engagement, provided it is done so constructively.

      What I don’t think serves anyone is to write Broussard off as some homophobic nobody who should be ignored and whose position we should pretend not exist. It does exist and we should think about ways in which to respond to it and how we can empower folks, be they gay or straight allies, to respond to them.Report

      • Avatar Bob2 in reply to Kazzy says:

        What Broussard’s been saying has been the social norm for most of American history you’ve been alive Kazzy. Everyone knows what he’s got to say. This goes back to what I was saying that this conversation doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and that’s why Welch writing his piece was just nonsense. The very reason people like Collins didn’t come out earlier is because they were afraid for their lives and livelihood because people like Broussard were once the majority saying these things not even a decade ago.

        That whole bit in the old Testament about stoning your own children to death for disobedience and about women having premarital sex being put to death as well tends to be overlooked by people like Broussard.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Bob2 says:

          And that should be how we respond to Broussard.

          But saying, “Broussard is a flaming pile of dog shit and all Christians are flaming piles of dog shit because of their inherent hatred of all things gay,” doesn’t get us anywhere. Folks saying that are who I am directing my comments towards. And I’ll still defend their right to say it… I just don’t think it is an effective way of achieving the sort of change we are seeking.Report

          • Avatar Bob2 in reply to Kazzy says:

            And yet it is effective. That kind of social stigma and ostracizing is exactly what works on a segment of the population. That Welch is saying that it’s de facto censorship because people will be afraid to speak up is truly truly ironic given the subject matter of coming out.
            Welch is essentially saying “Won’t somebody think of the Christians?”
            That’s all anyone god damned does already. See: Tebow thread.

            Also, how is Broussard’s comment even relevant to Collins having a job in the NBA?Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Bob2 says:

              But I think the sports world is different. People with that viewpoint are likely still in the majority. We can’t marginalize that viewpoint yet, as much as we might like to. We have to confront it, head on.Report

            • Avatar kenB in reply to Bob2 says:

              That kind of social stigma and ostracizing is exactly what works on a segment of the population

              “Works” in what way? Which segment? It certainly can be effective in getting people to keep their opinions hidden. Perhaps that’s an effective long-term strategy, but I think you have to make the argument for it rather than take it for granted.Report