Playing the Field: Jason Collins comes out as gay

Jason Collins came out as gay in the latest Sports Illustrated.
Jason Collins came out as gay in the latest Sports Illustrated.

Jason Collins is not a very good basketball player.

But he is a professional player and has now become the first major athlete to come out as gay. And the sole fact that this has taken so long is crazy.

Collins wrote an op-ed in the next issue of Sports Illustrated to announce his coming out:

“I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.

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. I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, ‘I’m different.’ If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.”

Good for you, Jason.

He says he came out about five years ago to family members and was accepted for who he is. He came out to twin brother, and fellow NBA player, Jarron last year. His brother was “astounded.”

Collins played for the Wizards last season and averaged just 1.1 points and 1.3 rebounds per game. But he did have a serviceable career as a back-up center in the league. He played for the Nets for seven years and had his most success in New Jersey. He’s played for the Grizzlies, Timberwolves, Hawks, Celtics and Wizards since.

There has been a rumor floating around for the last couple months that an NFL player (or players) would be coming out soon. It will happen eventually, but so far nothing. NFLPA President Dominique Foxworth even said the union was preparing for the inevitable.

Estimates have the gay population at about 4 percent in the United States. With about 400 players in the NBA (rosters can be 12-15 players, so it could be 360-450), that means the NBA should have 16 players who are gay. In other words, there’s one on every other team.

Collins is a free agent this offseason and while he is 34 years old and nearing the end of his career, let’s hope he grabs a roster spot in 2013-14.

Now let’s get someone who isn’t at the tailend of his career to come out.

Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports. He’s still not forgiving Collins for being the worst free-throw shooter ever though.



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