Paving the Path

“…and I’m gay.”

In April (2013), Washington Wizards’ center Jason Collins became the first active openly gay player in history from one of the four major North American professional team sports.

A mediocre basketball player, Collins’s announcement will forever be his claim to fame, but what an impact his announcement made.  Met with unwavering support from the biggest names of today (from Kobe Bryant to Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama), Collins has definitively demonstrated positive changes in America’s acceptance of homosexuality and cleared a slightly smoother path for future athletes to take on their journey out of the closet. While a number of bigots criticized Jason Collins, their voices were mostly drowned out by the waves of support following the announcement.

Collins announcement came between seasons, when his career was uncertain, and while it may have been suspected America was ready for the announcement, there were no certainties. Reminiscent of Jackie Robinson, Collins has taken the first crack at a barrier of intolerance in professional sports.

While being a gay athlete certainly merits a Sports Illustrated cover story, hopefully people like Jason Collins will continue to test and build America’s tolerance until coming out isn’t a big deal.

Taylor Bacon ’15