Hartley: Good for you, Mr. Collins, but I don’t care
I’m With Stupid
I was thinking this week that I should write something about last week’s big news, which was, of course, the fact that a professional athlete disclosed his sexual orientation, but then I remembered the name of this column is “I’m With Stupid,” which might lead one to believe I thought that Jason Collins was stupid for announcing that he’s gay.
In fact, just the opposite is true. I think this was a very intelligent move on Collins’ part. Coming out has made him relevant in a way that his mediocre NBA career never could, and by becoming the first openly gay athlete in a major American professional sport, Collins has cemented his place in history. Everyone will remember that he came first — a sort of gay Jackie Robinson — while whoever comes out next will be relegated to Larry Doby status.
(That’s actually a pointless analogy, to be honest. Collins is really more like Kenny Washington, a Chicago Bears running back who broke the modern NFL’s color barrier in 1946, one year before Robinson debuted in the major leagues. But since no one remembers Washington, I won’t mention him.)
Furthermore, I applaud Collins for his bravery. It must have been incredibly difficult for him to admit he’s gay. I’ve played team sports, and I imagine locker rooms can seem like very hostile places to a gay man. I’m not anti-gay, and I can’t think of any former teammates who were, but I guarantee you we all said things that would have been extremely hurtful to any gay person present.
The main reason I’m not going to write about Collins, though, is that I just don’t care, and I mean that in the absolute best way possible. I don’t care that Collins is gay or that there’s a gay player in the NBA. I’m happy for Collins, and I think it’s great that his admission has met with overwhelming support thus far from NBA players and fans, but I honestly have no interest whatsoever in his sexual orientation.
I am, however, ecstatic that a professional athlete finally has come out because now, hopefully, news outlets will shut the hell up about it.
For the past few months, we’ve all been inundated with articles claiming that it was only a matter of time before someone in the NFL, NHL, NBA or MLB admitted he was gay. Witness this headline from the Huffington Post on March 25: “Gay NFL Player May Come Out Soon.” There are dozens of similar examples, but I won’t bore you with them.
I don’t know about you, but I like my sports stories to be about sports. I find this whole gay talk to be as mind-numbingly boring as the millions of articles about steroids in baseball that we were all subjected to a couple of years ago. My reaction to that interminable period, when every sportswriter wanted to be a latter-day Woodward or Bernstein, was, “OK, we get it. Baseball players used steroids. Get over it, and tell me the scores of the freaking games already.”
My reaction to all the “Which athlete is going to admit he’s gay?” articles is similar, and I like to think that most sports fans out there feel the same way. We get it. We believe you when you say that there are closeted gay athletes in the professional ranks, but we just don’t care. Get over it, and tell us the scores of the games already.
You know, I always used to laugh when I heard older, conservative types talk about a so-called “gay agenda.” To me, it seemed like the only agenda gay people had was to not be discriminated against or picked on and to be treated with the same dignity and respect as straight people, but the media has been making such a big deal out of this notion of gay pro athletes that I’ve started to wonder if maybe there wasn’t some hidden gay agenda I wasn’t aware of.
I don’t know. Maybe there are people out there who care deeply about this subject, and they’re probably very excited that it’s grabbing all the headlines right now. I’m happy for them. If this helps gay people in their fight to achieve equality, then that’s great. But I think a more important metric of how far gays have come in their struggle already is the number of people there are like I am who couldn’t care less.
Trust me: Our apathy is a good sign.
Todd Hartley was the NBA’s first openly fat player. To read more or leave a comment, please visit http://www.zerobudget.net.
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