Another reason why firsts matter: Jason Collins

I was chatting with the other Ladies… this morning about how I was ready to post tonight on Don Cherry’s Saturday night rant about how women reporters don’t belong in the locker room. Then Jason Collins happened, we all got weepy at our workplaces, and I decided it would be more fun to reflect on the progress of the human race then a loudmouthed former coach defending the likes of Duncan Keith with a patronizing attitude towards women.

(Photo: SI.com)

(Photo: SI.com)

Back to the article at hand: it’s a must-read, so please check it out if you haven’t already done so. We all agreed it was incredibly moving and articulate. Now let’s face it: we care about what an athlete does on the court, not who he’s attracted to (although sometimes we wish it was one of us). Regardless, Collins’ coming out is a HUGE, important step for professional sports. Yes, we realize he was, at best, a bench player, and that he may not be resigned this offseason so we may not have a chance to see an openly gay player on an NBA court.

But here’s why being first matters: it’s about an active professional athlete taking the brave step to be publicly open, and to prove that it doesn’t change what you do on the court (or ice, or field). Think of how reassuring this is to the gay teenager who dreams of making it in the NBA: that it’s clear now, you can go after your dream, be yourself, and it’s going to be a little bit easier because Jason Collins just blazed a trail for you. And if you’re a closeted pro athlete, it just became a little easier for you to come out publicly, too.

Yes, there will be homophobic asshats, just as there are still racist arsepicks hanging onto pre-Civil War notions, to paraphrase CuteSports in our chat today. But you can’t stop progress. Take a look at the growing number of countries recognizing marriage between same sex couples and the groundswell of acceptance, support and education about LGTB issues. We’re witnessing another civil rights movement, and it’s grand. And seriously, don’t get discouraged by the ignorant rants and tweets you may come across. There is a lot of support for what this young man has done today, and it’s easy to find.

We needed someone to be first. Now it’s done. So Jason Collins, we salute you for your honesty and courage, and we hope you get signed somewhere. We feel we owe you a Hump Day Hottie post at least.

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