#BYOU

Sreeram Hariharan May 14, 2013

Jason Collins. Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons


Let's get liberated and live the way we want to

After receiving a foul during 2011 playoffs, LA Lakers star Kobe Bryant hit the bench hot and furious. He threw down a towel and yelled at the referee "Hey Bennie, you are a f***ing f****t".1

Past few years have witnessed such incidents repeated regularly in sports often followed by a heavy fine from the organizing body and a public apology by the culpable players. It was insensitive and derogatory and often they were sorry because they were caught and penalized.

Word Play

NBA (National Basketball Association) partnered with The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and the Ad Council to release a series of public service announcements designed to address the use of homophobic slurs in the game.

Words are words. There is room for cynicism. And then there was Jason Collins.

Jason Collins, 34 year old NBA centre forward from Washington Wizards captured the headlines when he announced in recent Sports Illustrated article that 2

I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay. I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, "I'm different." If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand.

Read More here.

Though many retired players have come out in public about their sexuality, Jason Collins is the first active player in pro-American sports to come out publicly. As expected, the association, LGBT community, co-athletes have all come to support. This groundbreaking pronouncement also generated accolades from the President and other law makers in Washington. But some reactions in the sporting worlds so far have not all been encouraging.

Last bastion of manliness

If sport is a religion then ESPN's analysts are its priests. Their top 10 plays section in Sports Centre is filled with in-your-face dunks and hard hitting tackles. They portray sports as the last bastion of manliness which is evident when, mildly put; they are conveniently forgetting Martina Navratilova and proclaiming Jason Collins as the first to come out. Even one of their analysts called homosexuality a sin and they stood by it. Discussions on now what will happen in the locker room or shower is highly insensitive, retrogressive and holding on to the stereotype. Jason Collins in his admittance talks about "labeled" in sports-masculine obsessed industry and how he resorts to hard fouls eagerly to appease his consciousness; which makes one wonder who is sticking to the good'ol sissy stereotypes.

Someone moved the normal

Obama's support for gay-marriage during re-election campaign seems to have moved the normal. The coalition of minority, blacks and LGBT community played a significant role in his victory. It was ensued by US Supreme Court hearing of arguments for the "Defense of Marriage Act [DOMA]" that restricts federal marriage benefits only to opposite-sex marriages in the United States. The DOMA, keeping aside discrimination of same-sex couples, stands as a moral disapproval of homosexuality. Hence striking down of the law has been much anticipated by the same-sex advocacy groups. As the public's attitude towards homosexuality and gay-rights are changing, an openly gay player should become a new normal in sports

And you have to believe it when the same Kobe Bryant who hurled gay slurs a year back, tweeted days before "Proud of @jasoncollins34. Don't suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others #courage #support #mambaarmystandup #BYOU "


  1. http://sports.espn.go.com/los-angeles/nba/news/story?id=6344596 

  2. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/magazine/news/20130429/jason-collins-gay-nba-player/?sct=hp_t11_a1&eref=sihp#all 

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