The day was bound to arrive sooner or later.
After rumors of several current NFL players considering coming out as gay, it was the NBA’s Jason Collins who stepped out Monday.
It’s a huge deal in the world of sports for a male athlete still pursuing a professional playing career in one of the four major leagues to announce his homosexuality, but the climate is changing. Some day, it won’t be such earth-shattering, Tim Tebow-topping news.
Who knows how long that will take, but there will come a day when it won’t be a major deal when an athlete of Collins level — he’s a 12-year NBA veteran with an unremarkable stat line — comes out of the closet. Of course it would be news if a superstar ever made such a bold move, but most events — regardless of importance that happen in the lives of elite athletes — make the sports ticker.
When people will read that a player is gay and don’t need to dwell on it, that will be the sign of real progress.
Don’t get me wrong here. Collins’ brave revelation Monday is a landmark day. Doc Rivers, who coached Collins on the Celtics earlier this season, referenced the lessons learned from what Jackie Robinson went through in beginning the arduous road of baseball’s acceptance of black players.
“Teammates are always the first to accept,” Rivers said in a statement. “It will be society who has to learn tolerance.”
At least publicly, it seems society is embracing Collins choice to share his sexuality openly.
Sure, he’s going to hear it from those who don’t understand or think his way of life is wrong. But as time goes on those people will become a small minority on and off the court.
The day I really can’t wait for is the day when people don’t care what Collins sexuality is; the day all they want to know is if he can play or not.
And that day is bound to arrive eventually.
Scott Fontana, amNY’s sports editor, can be reached at email@example.com.