words // Zac Dubasik
Yesterday, news broke that the first active American athlete playing a major team sport had come out as gay. Sure, "active" is used a bit loosely, as Collins' contract runs out in July. And after once being the lowest ranked player in the highly scientific scale of NBA 2K12, Collins' next contract is hardly a sure thing.
But that may make his announcement even more significant. It's one thing to seek acceptance from your existing teammates, but landing a new deal is uncharted territory.
It would be fair to say that John Amaechi helped pave the way for Collins' announcement. Five years ago, Amaechi became the first former NBA player to come out publicly, and he did so in a much more hostile environment.
While there was high profile support from former players and teammates, there was also pure ignorance and hate. Tim Hardaway even went as far as his infamous proclamation of, "I hate gay people."
But times are changing. In those five short years, we've seen a drastic shift in the acceptance of gays and lesbians. President Obama has voiced his support of gay marriage, and now, a majority of Americans also support marriage equality.
Even the professional sports community has become more vocal in their support, most notably with Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe's letter to a Maryland state delegate. If you've never read it, it's highly recommended. There've also recently been rumors that a group of current NFL players plan to soon come out together.
We have no idea who those players may be, but it brings up an interesting question. What if it were a signature level athlete?
First of all, there would have to be a signature-level athlete that happened to be gay. Next, they would have to be willing to risk the possible backlash, and very measurable potential impact to their bank account. Michael Jordan has always been careful to tiptoe around controversial statements or stances, infamously once saying, "Republicans buy shoes too."
Then again, to the right athlete who would feel so compelled to step forth, could the potential to bring even wider acceptance outweigh any financial implications?
And what about you, the consumer? If you found out that your favorite former or current signature athlete was gay, would it in any way impact your likelihood of buying their next release?
Vote in the poll below, and let us know what you think in the comments.