Homosexuality barrier broken in pro sports

Jason Collins Photo used under Creative Commons License

Carlos Font, Staff Writer

   This world and its people are constantly changing. Today, things that were once unacceptable are become more and more normal.

   For the most part, in our culture, being homosexual, lesbian or bisexual is becoming one of those newly acceptable things in the world. Sports, like every aspect of culture, are changing as well. Recently, more athletes at the college and professional levels are speaking out about and professing homosexulaity.

   During an interview with SI.com in April 2013, Brittney Griner, former Baylor Bears center and current WNBA superstar, came out as lesbian. About a month later, NBA veteran Jason Collins announced he was gay as well, following the end of the 2012-2013 season.

   As to be expected, Collins and Grainer received a great deal of criticism, more Collins than Greiner. Collins was both criticized and praised for coming out as gay. For example, Westboro Baptist Church tried to boycott the NBA Playoffs as an act of disagreement against Collins. At the same time, others praised him for being courageous enough to be honest about his sexuality in the public eye. Players like Kobe Bryant and other NBA superstars praised Collins for his bravery to come out as gay.

   Months after Collins’ announcement, he also became a free agent in the NBA. As the off-season went by and the NBA started their 2013-2014 season, no team showed interest in signing the seven-foot-tall center. In February 2014, Collins signed a ten-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets, the team that drafted him out of Stanford University in 2000 as the 18th overall pick of that year’s draft. Collins played 11 minutes that same day on his first game back in the NBA. The center became the first openly gay athlete in the four major U.S. sports leagues (Major League Baseball, National Hockey League, National Football League and National Basketball Association).

   Collins’ decision to reveal his homosexuality opened the door for future professional athletes to do the same. On February 9, 2014, the defensive back from the University of Missouri, Michael Sam, also came out as gay. Sam has been declared for the 2014 NFL draft and is looking to become the first gay NFL player.Sam was overwhelmed with the questions at the NFL Combine about his decision; how would being gay impact his play in the NFL?

The All-American responded with: “Well, heck yeah, I wish you guys would just say, ‘Michael Sam, how’s football going? How’s training going?’ I would love for you to ask me that question. But it is what it is. I just wish you guys would just see me as Michael Sam the football player instead of Michael Sam the gay football player.” Sam’s frustration is understandable; he has been and will continue to be an excellent athlete. It is through individuals such as Sam, Collins and Grainer that our society will become less ostracizing and more loving when it comes to issues such as homosexuality.