A big story broke earlier this week when NBA player Jason Collins announced he is gay. Collins became the first active player in any of the four major sports in the United States (NBA basketball, MLB baseball, NFL football, NHL hockey) to come out. The story found it’s way into all media. Even a baseball podcast I listen too spent significant time discussing the issue.
I took a little heat from a friend of mine when, while discussing the story, I said “I don’t care if Jason Collins is gay”. My friend was adamant. “This is a big deal”, the friend said.
Let me explain. It took a lot of guts for Collins, whose professional world is extremely masculine and probably includes more than it’s fair share of homophobes, to publicly announce he’s gay. I have much respect for the courage it must have taken for him to do this knowing that there could be some consequences in the locker room.
But as a sports fan all I care about is the sport. When I’m watching a game or an interview with a player I don’t care (much) about the player as a person. I care about the player as an athlete. I don’t care if he (or she) is straight, gay, married, single, whatever. I don’t care about the house they live in or the car they drive. It’s all about the game.
We all have our own lifestyles. Some parts of our lifestyles we’ve chosen. Others are products of our environments. Still others have just evolved over time. We are all entitled to whatever our lifestyles are and don’t need approval from other people. I live my life in my way and you live your life in yours.
So why should I care if Collins is gay or not? He’s entitled to live his life his way.