Collins is a trailblazer for gay sports athletes
The sports world was recently upended by the news that NBA player Jason Collins made his declaration in becoming the first male in a major U.S. team sport professional athlete to declare that he is openly gay and is still active in his sport.
The question now is how many more gay athletes are out there and why does this matter?
Collins wishes he wasn't the "poster boy" for active openly gay players-"I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, 'I'm different,'" he said in a Sports Illustrated cover article in May.
The 12-year veteran (who went to Stanford) also alludes that there are more gay players that are still in hiding.
"If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand," he said.
Other NBA players both active and retired are aware of other gay athletes in the sport.
NBA Hall of Fame player Charles Barkley was asked about the matter and he stated "I'm happy he, [Collins] gets to be himself."
Listen, we've all played with gay players, everybody worked with gay players."
The comments by both Barkley and Collins raise the question: Why do closet athletes feel the pressure to stay in hiding, especially in the current atmosphere?
That question may be answered once when July 1 arrives; that is the first day of the NBA free agency period.
Collins, who will be an unrestricted free agent, is still a serviceable center who will bring cohesiveness and leadership to any team in the league.
Media attention may lead to Collins being unemployed and shunned by the sport that be has loved his entire life.
Sexual orientation, just like religion or ethnic background, should not determine whether an individual is allowed to keep his job or not;
Collins' NBA fate needs to be dictated on his remaining skill set.
Collins, 34, feels as through he still belongs in the NBA and can contribute to a team; he wants to be judged on what he has done over his 12-year career.
"I can still play in this league. I want to still play in this league," he said.
"I still have a love for the game and I still feel that I can offer an NBA ballclub that veteran leadership," he said.
"I think I've proven by doing this that not only will I talk the talk but I will walk the walk. I think everybody in the league respects that."
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