So What?
By John D. Turner
2 May 2013

And now, in breaking news, NBA basketball player Jason Collins is still gay

Just in case you are the one person in American who hasn’t heard, earlier this week NBA basketball player Jason Collins announced to the world that he is gay. This was met with a week of celebration by the media, praising his “courage” and holding him up to the world as a hero to young aspiring gays everywhere who might someday want to become NBA basketball players.

A more important question in my mind is, “can he play basketball?” After all, that is what he was hired to do. I doubt having sex with other men (or anyone for that matter) figures much into his contract.

It is easy to be a hero in America these days. All you need to do is proclaim your “other than heterosexual sexual orientation,” particularly in some arena where you can claim to be the “first” to do so. I am sure there are others in different sports that are queuing up to be the first to announce in their particular area of endeavor.

Indeed, the NFL, eager to show that it too is a bastion of diversity, appears to be right behind the NBA; not a place the NFL likes to be, to be sure, with up to four players considering jointly revealing their sexuality. Wow! I can hardly wait! It’s kind of like finding out who Superman’s alter ego is. No wait – we all know that.

Because when I watch football, the biggest thing on my mind is wondering what gender those manly guys prefer to engage in dalliance with when the game is over and it is time to get it on. I’ve always wondered, for example, about the relationship between the quarterback and the center; the QB seems to have his hands where they shouldn’t go an awful lot. I wonder what the percentage of gay centers is in the NFL? Or quarterbacks?

And don’t forget the NHL. Ice hockey, that most manly of sports is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to let you know who’s “proudly” gay on the ice. Apparently they have been preparing for years to let you in on the secret; they have just been waiting for someone to step forward. As the NHL deputy commissioner put it, he is “not personally aware of any gay players in the league,” but is treating any “coming out” as a “high priority.”

So, what’s next: The gay sports stats? Most double-doubles for a gay player? Most valuable gay player? Gay player of the year? Really, I am stoked. Who’s gay in soccer? What about bowling, golf, and tennis? And the real hero – the one who takes his life in his hands to announce his sexual orientation; perhaps the bravest American ever to trod the earth – who is gay in NASCAR?

At least we have a place now to compile such stats, and a reason for doing so. Coincidently, it was just announced that a “National Gay & Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame” is opening in, of all places, Chicago. Why? Because gay sports figures are special of course. We can’t have any discrimination, and tolerance is the watchword, but we “need” a special place to “honor” these heroes – this despite the fact that they also have to be enshrined in any “regular” sports hall of fame as well; not to do so would be demeaning and discriminatory.

But it’s not discriminatory to have a special gay and lesbian sports hall of fame. And just to show that it isn’t discriminatory, you don’t have to be homosexual to be enshrined there. According to the executive director and board chairman Bill Gubrud, “We’re not just going to honor gay athletes, but other athletes who helped those gay athletes along and provided a safe haven.” So there; “Gay friendly” heteros are apparently welcome as well. Gubrud, who, what a surprise, is also gay, has also organized a gay and lesbian day at Wrigley Field, was once a Little League coach, and is a die-hard Cubs fan.

But hey, it’s a free country. If that is how he chooses to spend his time and wants to spend his money, that’s fine. Not sure I would want to go to Chicago for any reason myself. I would love to visit the Museum of Natural History there, but not sure I want to enter a free-fire zone to do that. For a city that has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country, there certainly is a lot of gun violence there. About the best I can say is that it isn’t as bad as Detroit, another city with very restrictive gun laws.

So now we have both the gay sports figures and a place to enshrine them. Cool!

There are some sports where this will be greeted with a big ho-hum. The WNBA comes to mind. In a league where it is assumed that pretty much all the players are lesbians, will the real hero there be the first woman who proclaims her heterosexuality? Nah. Never happen. The media would crucify her.

You know, at the end of the day, I really don’t care how any sports figure, hetero, homo, or bi gets their sexual kicks. My main interest in them is in how they perform in the job they are being paid for – the sport they play. Jason Collins? I never heard of him before his announcement. Perhaps he is a good player. Perhaps this is a big publicity thing for him to prop up a sagging career. I don’t know and I don’t care. He isn’t on the Spurs. And if a member of the Spurs, say Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, or Tony Parker came out and said that in reality, they are really more interested in their fellow player’s than the cheerleaders, my response would be the same; that’s nice. What do your basketball stats look like this year?

Here is my take on the subject. I am a Christian. According to my reading of the good book, homosexuality is a sin. Those who practice homosexual relationships are sinning. Likewise, heterosexual sex, out of wedlock is also a sin. And those who practice that are likewise sinning. And as many as there are in the NBA, NFL, NHL, or any other sport that may be guilty of the sin of homosexual behavior, there are probably more that are guilty of heterosexual sex out of wedlock as well. This isn’t something I typically dwell on while watching a basketball game either.

Lying is sinning. Murder is sinning. Stealing is sinning. Taking the name of God in vain is sinning. There are a lot of different ways to sin, and all of us are guilty of some of them. Guess what? We are all sinners! Good thing there is forgiveness in Jesus Christ for all of us. And if you don’t believe in God; if you are not a Christian; if you think this is all a bunch of hooey, that’s fine. This is America where, supposedly anyway, you are entitled to your opinion, as I am entitled to mine.

So Jason Collins is gay. So what? I don’t know if he is a Christian or not, and if he is, I am not sure how he squares his behavior with the Lord. I am sure he does somehow, because we are all really good at rationalizing our behavior to make what we do “OK”. But really, it isn’t my problem, it is his. I am not his judge and however he chooses to live his life is up to him. This is what we in my faith call “free agency.” It is a gift that God has given us from the beginning.

Meanwhile, the media love fest continues. What happens when each of the sports announces its “first” out-of-the-closet homosexuals to the adoration of an admiring press? Must be pretty heady stuff – just yesterday Jason Collins was cowering in the closet, afraid to admit that essential part of his being that yearns for warm man flesh for fear of retribution from the Neanderthals around him and suddenly today he is the latest and greatest American hero, to be admired and dare I say it, emulated as a role model. Other gay athletes are going to be stumbling all over themselves to come out now. Imagine – all the guest appearances on all the TV talk shows and news programs. I bet President Obama will even present them with the Medal of Freedom. It wouldn’t surprise me if Jason Collins doesn’t make the cover of the next issue of Time magazine, Sports Illustrated, and others.

Being “the first” can pay sweet benefits.

I guess now we will have to dig deeper for more “firsts.” Can’t be the first NBA player to come out any more – but you could be the first NBA forward, or center, or point-guard, or coach. How about the first openly gay NBA mascot? Is perhaps the Spurs Coyote gay?

It’s easier with football and baseball because there are more positions that you can be a “first” with. Maybe you can be the first second string backup left handed relief pitcher to come out of the closet. I can’t wait to find out who the first gay curler will be. Or even better, the first gay caber-tosser; now there’s a manly sport!

Personally, I will be glad when it is all over and the ADD afflicted media can turn its sights to some other equally immaterial passion de jure. When I wonder, will we ever become interested in the real problems we face, such as the economy, national debt, government encroachment on our personal lives, and the numerous other existential threats we face that we are trying so hard to ignore?

Meanwhile, as of today, as far as I know, Jason Collins is still gay. I still don’t know if he is a good basketball player or not. And I could still care less about either.