Collins Trailblazes in the NBA

The National Basketball Association officially is the first professional league to welcome an openly gay athlete. During the 2012-2013 season, Jason Collins made a life-changing decision, to announce publicly that he was gay. Simultaneously, his “game” was declining at a rapid pace. The world waited to see if the Wizards were going to have him continue with them or if he would be released.¬†While many believed the decision to not re-sign him was because of his sexual preference, others had faith that it was simply because he was no longer producing the numbers at Washington had expected of him. Regardless, they chose to let him go and he became a free agent at that time.

History was made Saturday, February 23, 2014 when the Brooklyn Nets decided to take a chance on Collins, making him the first homosexual to perform in the NBA.

Following his coming out in 2013, Collins received high praise for his bravery. Influential people like Kobe Bryant and President Obama reached out to him to let him know how much they support him. Even more shocking, Nike, one of his main sponsors, also offered him support.

Yesterday, Collins stepped onto the court for his first game with the Nets. He received praise from new NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver who said that he was excited for the journey that Collins is on. He sees this as an opportunity for others to be braves and believes that it has taken professional sports too long to be open to this idea.

When asked whether he took the cut that took place back in April personally, he made it clear that he did not want to believe so. The question is always there, would a professional sport purposefully release a valuable player just because of his sexual preference?

In my opinion, I believe that personal issues like such should be kept off the court anyways. We are part of a generation that feels like they need to proclaim all things to the public. I am proud of the person that Collins is and the legacy that his is leaving in the league, but the fact is that information is no one else’s business. I find it admirable that he would sacrifice his reputation and his potential in the league to make a statement.

I am proud of the NBA for not punishing him for his personal life. I would be disgusted with professional sports if they had not allowed him to continue doing what he loves. This is what distinguishes us from other worlds. For example, Sochi’s mayor proclaimed back in January that there would not be any gays welcomed to the city during the Olympics. That is an embarrassment and I am grateful that Collins was given equal opportunity to be who he is and do what he loves.

The Nets were extremely impressive for making that statement. During his first game, he was welcome in an away arena with a standing ovation. This goes to show that sports are so much more than competition and that people can rally behind individuals as individuals, not just the brand or team that they represent.

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