I doubt that I ever felt a reason to write about homosexuality. Maybe it is all the press? No in reality it’s comments to both legitimate news articles and others that masquerade as news but are in fact opinions or editorials. This piece is only an opinion and more accurately an opinion written off the top of my head with no research or any real contemplation.
Jason Collins as an NBA player, I really can’t think of too much to say. Even if I still followed the NBA like I did during the days of Bird, Magic, and my two favorite players, John Stockton and Joe Dumars, who I got to see often on television, I would think of Collins as a big body reserve. I can tell you slightly more about Collins in his NCAA career at Stanford along with that of his twin brother Jarron. I even remember when the University of Virginia and the women’s basketball team had the Burge twins playing in the post. So that might be some type of twin thing. If the Collins brothers had played in a conference not located in the West, I probably would have seen them play more.
OK, Jason Collins is the first male athlete in one of the major team sports in the United States to say that he is homosexual while being an active player. Other athletes have made the same declarations with the one which sticks in my mind being Martina Navratilova because I believe her announcement happened about the time she became a US citizen.
This is a field of history where I have very limited knowledge. Unlike my areas of expertise where I know enough to know how little I actually do know, I can’t even make a claim of knowing enough here to get myself into trouble in a professional historical sense. Years from now, will Collins be remembered in the same manner as many of the professional athletes who succeeded in breaking the color barrier in their respective sports? I doubt it because they faced a different type of discrimination. For example in the segregated leagues, anyone could see that members of the Globetrotters or players in the Negro leagues were just as talented and capable as players in the white leagues. Some at the time, however, felt it was wrong for the individuals to play against one another or as teammates. Athletes such as Collins or Navratilova will not be considered different by their athletic accomplishments because of their personal choices, and they did not gain additional competitive opportunities from their declarations.
Is the statement made by Jason Collins important? Yes, because it addresses another form of discrimination and stereotyping. A form that isn’t as apparent as discrimination based on color, gender, age, and even religion. It’s difficult to remain ignorant of those types of discrimination that one can see on the surface. It’s relatively easy to make groupings for good or bad because we can see skin color, gender, approximate age, and even though we might not see it as easily, any knowledge of history brings awareness that religious discrimination occurs. In the case of an individual like Collins, we probably would not see, let alone understand the discrimination unless it happened to us or we saw it happen to someone we know. Just because we do not see the tree fall, does not mean that it still stands in the woods.
Personally, I don’t want to view or really hear about anyone’s personal life in public beyond the “hello and how are you.” People talk about freedoms and rights all the time, and I think that a right to privacy exists for all. We’re talking about two adults both having the freedom and right to make their own personal decisions and as long as that decision does not infringe upon the same freedom and right of others, I feel it is their choice.
I do know that people have justified slavery. They have justified treating others as inferior for some of the most irrational and idiotic reasons one can imagine. Great cases can be made to back up their actions by citing passages from the Bible, works of philosophers, words of the regular person at the corner or someone over yonder, and just general observations of nature and the world. In the same manner, others can counter the arguments using the same sources.
I’m not getting into a religious, ethical, or moral debate with anyone. When someone cites Biblical passages to me on most subjects, I’m always reminded of Matthew 7: 1-2 “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (KJV). Others may have the knowledge and capability to cast judgment but this boy surely does not have those attributes.
In my opinion, Jason Collins should not be a huge news story. Unfortunately, it has to be because whether we see it or not human beings are being discriminated against and treated unfairly. I’ve decided how to live my life. The only social discrimination I ever faced that might be comparable was being single and not marrying my wife until I was in my 30s. Some friends seemed to love that I was single while others actually seemed jealous. Many made it part of their personal mission to get me married to their cousin or this sweet girl with whom they work. A few of those girls are great friends today so it wasn’t that bad in my mind. Others I know have been married, divorced, married another, and divorced another, and so on. In some of these cases, I wouldn’t call husband or wife the bad person or the one at fault. For whatever reason, something happened. I’m not going to start condemning them through Biblical passages, and while I’ll listen and try to help there are certain things that are none of my business. Just don’t talk bad about them behind their back, and if I’m aware of negativity or recognize unfair treatment I will defend them for being judged without a hearing. I’m taking the same stance here on this topic.
I applaud Jason Collins not because he is a professional athlete and made his statements, but because he has taken a chance to try and help others from being subjected to discrimination and misunderstandings. He has every right and freedom that I have, and his private life is his private life. We haven’t reached the point of eradication yet, but I think we as a people have lessened our degree of discrimination based on physical characteristics and our lives out in public. My hope is that a person like Jason Collins being a professional athlete might lessen the degree of discrimination based upon our private life. I know that many will deluge me with Biblical passages and historical references as to my idiocy or corruptness, but when I continue reading along in Matthew I still don’t think I have the authority.
(BTW: My favorite basketball player would be Pete Maravich, but I am too young to really remember him as a player although I got to see a few New Orleans Jazz games in person. After his playing career I did get to see him on a few occasions before his passing, I have never seen anyone come close to duplicating what he could do with a basketball. John Stockton was just John Stockton, assists and steals, while Joe Dumars had the Louisiana connection and was one of the players that brought those intangibles to a championship team and played the game tough but fair and as a true sportsman. He never needed the spotlight to be a star on the court).