Gimme a break: career NBA-journeyman Jason Collins comes out about being gay and is roundly applauded in the celeb-driven media. The narcissist-in-chief even took time out from running the world to call and congratulate him and lauded him for his courage. In my opinion it didn’t show very much courage to come out after the season, and possibly his career, was over. Don’t get me wrong, my quarrel is not with Jason Collins; he seems like a nice enough young man–who finally decided to do the right thing–like tell his fiancée of eight years. What I have a problem with is our celebrity-crazed media who purvey what’s basically gossip and call it “the News.”
Collins is 34-years old and is on the last legs of a mediocre career. He played in less than half of this season’s 82 games and averaged 1.1 pts per game–that’s as in only ONE point a game. No, coming out will not harm his NBA career or legacy. In fact, if he’s still in the league next year it will be because he is gay and not in spite of it. He’s gone from being a footnote to a celebrity and celebs help put fans in the seats. Coming out has likely been a brilliant career move. He will appear on plenty of talk shows and probably even get a gig on some reality show like DWTS, or maybe even host SNL. Had he come out five years ago when he was getting more playing time and when being gay wasn’t quite so fashionable maybe his action could have been labeled “courageous”–but not now. In case no one has noticed, in the past couple years pretty much any celeb who comes out gets 90% kudos and favorable press. One or two other celebs may make critical statements but they’re quickly drownded out and labeled miscreants.
Jarring Contrast: Tim Tebow openly confesses his Christian faith and many in the media are quick to condemn and criticize him. In effect, much of the media tells him to “shut up” or “keep your views to yourself.” And they obviously take a perverse delight in his failures. It’s an unflattering comment on our human nature that many of us don’t like to be reminded that there are others in this world with more integrity. Tebow is not seen as courageous–more like a fanatic. People do not like to be reminded that some folks lead lives based on the standards of a 3000 year old book, and that for many those standards are immutable. In some places biblical injunctions about homsexuality are labled as “hate-speech.” Anyway, Tebow got cut from the Jets this week and I didn’t notice any articles mourning his career. At best, a few noted that the Jets never really gave him a chance. Me, I was glad that they cut him. The Jets are a loser organization and Tebow is a winner. If he continues his career in the Canadian Football League, so be it. He will be an asset to some team.
One writer even had the gall to compare Collins coming out to Jackie Robinson–that made my blood boil. Jackie Robinson is an authentic American hero. Before there was Martin Luther King there was Jackie Robinson. He was the face of courage in the stuggle for equality two decades before MLK. Every black person in this country owes Jackie Robinson a debt–but especially athletes. He faced down racism in 1947, when he walked out onto the white man’s playing-field–when half the folks in this country saw blacks as sub-human. Against all odds he faced massive bigotry and triumphed.
I was reminded recently of Robinson’s struggle by the movie “42“–Jackie’s number. It’s a good movie, one every American should see. Where I live, Orange City, is halfway between Sanford and DeLand–two cities prominently featured in the movie as hotbeds of racism. That personalized the film for me. Back in 1946-47, they were the Florida spring training homes of major league teams, and many fans, to say the least, were unhappy to see a black man on the same field with white players– an era when public places still had “Colored Only” restrooms and drinking fountains. But now its 65-years later and I see lots of equality–and only smidgens of racism, mostly in the attitudes of some obvious low-lifes. Jackie Robinson did us all a favor–black and white.
Interestingly enough, Branch Rickey, the Dodgers owner, brilliantly portrayed in the film by Harrison Ford, was characterized as being at least partially driven by Christian values in his quest to integrate baseball. Early in the film, noting why he likes him, he says to Jackie, “You’re a Methodist, I’m a Methodist.”
No, Collins is no Jackie Robinson. Courage today is a 19-year-old kid in some podunk redneck town in Texas or Louisiana coming out as gay. There are still a few places where it’s not accepted and coming out can get you hurt or killed. But hopefully, homophobia is ebbing, and one can also only hope that in a few years some minor celeb’s sexual orientation will not be newsworthy. But if it still is, the media bozos who define “the News” will make sure we hear about it.