Sports‎ > ‎

Political And Sports Worlds React To NBA Player Who Announces That He Is Gay

posted 30 Apr 2013, 01:22 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 30 Apr 2013, 01:23 ]

White House and sports world reacts to NBA veteran Jason Collins who becomes the first active male player in the four major American professional sports to come out as gay.

WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES (APRIL 29, 2013) (NBC) -  Jason Collins, a veteran center in the National Basketball Association(NBA), announced on Monday (April 29) that he was gay, breaking one of the final frontiers in U.S. sports and society.

Collins became the first active player from any of the four major U.S. men's professional sports leagues to publicly reveal his homosexuality.

He did so in a first-person account published in Sports Illustrated, saying he had gradually become frustrated with having to keep silent on gay issues. The BostonMarathon bombings this month had convinced him not to wait any more for a perfect moment to come out, he wrote.

"I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, 'I'm different.' said Collings, who played last season with the Boston Celtics and then theWashington Wizards and is currently a free agent.

"If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand."

Reaction to his announcement flooded in swiftly.

Players, administrators and some politicians applauded him for taking a stance. Some hailed it as a landmark day in American civil rights, as important as whenJackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball.

Collins' move came at a time of heated debate over gay rights in the United States, where polls show public opinion is fast moving toward greater acceptance, although a core of social conservatives oppose such change.

In the coming months, the Supreme Court will rule on whether to strike down parts of a federal law that defines marriage as the union between a man and a woman. In 2011, the military repealed a ban on openly gay soldiers.

"Jason's announcement today is an important moment for professional sports and in the history of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community," former U.S. president Bill Clinton said in a statement.

White House Spokesman Jay Carney was asked about the Collins announcement at Monday's briefing for reporters.

"I can certainly tell you that here at the White House we view that as another example of the progress that has been made and the evolution that has been taking place in this country, and commend him for his courage, and support him in his -- in this effort and hope that his fans and his team support him going forward."

NBA commissioner David Stern said he was proud of Collins.

"Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue," Stern said.

In a country where it is no longer news for politicians and entertainers to be openly gay, the absence of an openly gay male player in any of the major professional sports had become a hot topic.

Sports, which helped play a key role in changing public opinion on racial discrimination, had come to seem out of step with much of the rest of American society.

Collins, who is 34 years old, and who has played with six different teams during his 12 years in the NBA, said he never had any grand plans of being the first openly gay player, but events off the basketball court persuaded him to come out.

He was inspired by last year's gay pride parade in Boston, he said, but delayed making an announcement due to a desire to protect his team, waiting until the end of the regular 2012-2013 season ended. Collins was also prompted by the April 15Boston Marathon bombings which killed three people and wounded more than 200, he said.

"The recent Boston Marathon bombing reinforced the notion that I shouldn't wait for the circumstances of my coming out to be perfect," he wrote in Sports Illustrated. "Things can change in an instant, so why not live truthfully?

Kobe Bryant, one of the NBA's greatest players, was among dozens of active players who took to social media to applaud Collins.

"Proud of @jasoncollins34. Don't suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others," Bryant tweeted.

Fellow Laker Teammate Paul Gasol of Spain tweeted: "It's amazing to see such courage from Jason Collins in today's announcement. Myself and the NBA Family support you."

In Oakland California, the Golden State Warriors were savoring a 3-1 lead over theDenver Nuggets in their first round playoff series. Coach Mark Jackson could not offer unqualified complete support

"We live in a country that allows you to be whoever you want to be. As a Christian man I serve a god that gives you free will to be who you want to be. As a Christian man I have beliefs as to what 's right and what's wrong. That being said, I knowJason Collins. I know his family and certainly praying for him at this time."

The Golden State Warriors President, Rick Welts, who has come out as a gay man, felt the announcement was overdue.

"I just think that's where we are. We're lagging behind where society is on this issue and I think to some degree we caught up a little bit today."

There are openly gay players in many top professional leagues in other countries in the world as well as smaller leagues in North America and individual sports.

But there has been no active player from the big four pro men's leagues - the NBA, the National Football League, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball - who had come out until now.