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Jason Collins becomes the first pro athlete in a major US team sport to 'come out'

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Old
04-29-2013, 06:53 PM
  #1
Fugu
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Jason Collins becomes the first pro athlete in a major US team sport to 'come out'

Quote:
Why NBA center Jason Collins is coming out now

Now I'm a free agent, literally and figuratively. I've reached that enviable state in life in which I can do pretty much what I want. And what I want is to continue to play basketball. I still love the game, and I still have something to offer. My coaches and teammates recognize that. At the same time, I want to be genuine and authentic and truthful.
Why am I coming out now? Well, I started thinking about this in 2011 during the NBA player lockout. I'm a creature of routine. When the regular season ends I immediately dedicate myself to getting game ready for the opener of the next campaign in the fall. But the lockout wreaked havoc on my habits and forced me to confront who I really am and what I really want. With the season delayed, I trained and worked out. But I lacked the distraction that basketball had always provided.
...
No one wants to live in fear. I've always been scared of saying the wrong thing. I don't sleep well. I never have. But each time I tell another person, I feel stronger and sleep a little more soundly. It takes an enormous amount of energy to guard such a big secret. I've endured years of misery and gone to enormous lengths to live a lie. I was certain that my world would fall apart if anyone knew. And yet when I acknowledged my sexuality I felt whole for the first time. I still had the same sense of humor, I still had the same mannerisms and my friends still had my back.


Collins obviously has his reasons, but the reason I'm putting this on the business board is to discuss whether or not major pro players can come out and not have their careers or teams affected. The topic comes up quite frequently in NHL circles as well.


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*Keep the personal politics and religion out the debate.*

*Don't get into science you cannot back up nor understand.*

**Business discussion only.**


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04-29-2013, 07:16 PM
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canuckster19
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I'm not sure how to discuss this without bring up some of the things that shouldn't be brought up.

Will it hurt his team? I don't know about that, I guess if his teammates somehow feel negative towards his lifestyle maybe, but I would hope they wouldn't, it would be a double standard if they did, I think people know what I mean by this so I'll leave it at that.

As far as sponsors go, well there are obviously loud voices in America that believe in certain "core family values", I honestly don't believe they are as many as people believe, I think it's a combination of bandwagonism and vote fishing. I think most business people will see opportunity here more than negativity, and wont listen to that minority.

I have a good picture for this and I think it sums everything up nicely...

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Last edited by Fugu: 04-29-2013 at 07:27 PM. Reason: well, that was kind of political statement, no?
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04-29-2013, 07:22 PM
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Good commentary here from the openly-gay Martina Navratilova:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/mag...1_a5&eref=sihp

The NHL gets mentioned both in a negative context about the past (a coach claiming there were no gay players in the league because it's a "macho sport") and in a positive context about the present for leading the way (as a league) with the You Can Play program.

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04-29-2013, 07:31 PM
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Glenn Burke

Glenn Burke, ex MLB player, former Dodger, Athletic.

http://www.xtra.ca/public/National/O...ory-10494.aspx


His story illustrates how teams and management made business decisions impacting his career and the team's fortunes.

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04-29-2013, 07:35 PM
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If anything, I suspect that Collins timed it at this (in part) moment to drum up support for his eventual UFA contract.

Or he knows that he's done, and that it doesn't really matter anymore.

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04-29-2013, 07:57 PM
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I believe there are less gay men in some pro sports leagues compared to the general public. The main reason I believe this is because macho team sports tend create or reinforce a culture that is not gay friendly and sometimes blatantly homophobic. That culture turns gay kids away from sports.

Of course, we can't actually discuss this or anything controversial on this board so the message "you can play" is just a hollow sentiment that we pay lip service and expect others to follow through with.

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04-29-2013, 09:39 PM
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LadyStanley
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Highway to Cap Hell View Post
If anything, I suspect that Collins timed it at this (in part) moment to drum up support for his eventual UFA contract.

Or he knows that he's done, and that it doesn't really matter anymore.
Quoted he wants to continue playing.

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04-29-2013, 09:51 PM
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I too find his timing suspicious. But whatever, good for him. That took courage

I'm curious to see what his former teammates and teams say. This could indicate whether or not gays will get actual support in pro sports.

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04-29-2013, 09:54 PM
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Maybe 20 years ago it was something. But isn't this world evolved enough to know that being hetero or homosexual does not change the person you are. I am sorry if this is political or what ever, but seriously, If my favorite star is Crosby or Oveckin, if they are the great athletes that I enjoy watching for their skill on the ice, does it really matter if they are into guys or girls ?

To me it does not.

Saying : I wont support that team because they have a player who is openly gay is like saying I won't buy BP gas because they made a natural disaster. When that team with that player reaches playoffs and finals, and when BP prices get lower than the guy accross the street, people will have forgotten about what they said and will go with the masses.

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04-29-2013, 10:11 PM
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I doubt it has a negative effect in a commercial sense. The NBA tends to attract a pretty liberal crowd (more so than the NFL and baseball). It could maximize Collins' marketing value while reducing the number of teams willing to sign him (if your star player has a problem with gay teammates, you wouldn't sign him).

Maybe Collins could get a few endorsement deals out of it. He might get lucky and a sporting media desperate to be seen as "serious" and "socially conscious" might jump on it and try to make him into a "Gay Jackie Robinson" which would obviously be a marketing opportunity.

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04-29-2013, 10:22 PM
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We have openly gay public figures engaged in subjects and careers that we are not allowed to discuss. Heh. Pro sports culture is really superconservative, so it's refreshing to see someone come out.

I think the market will respond positively. People want to see themselves in their heroes. There's room for all types.

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04-29-2013, 10:34 PM
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I'd hate to see Collins pull the "they won't sign me because I'm gay" card now that he has come out. I agree that the timing is suspicious. He was a borderline roster player before. I don't think this sends the right message. Society needs an active star player to come out, not a guy lucky to still be in the league. This could be a politically difficult situation for the NBA.

I think more openly gay players would be a great thing for the NHL, should a group ever decide to come out together. I cringe just saying that. It's putting a positive spin on a terrible situation. One shouldn't have to hide and feel reprisal for who they are inside. Commercially speaking, diversity is 'in'. The demographics of hockey make that a challenge, though.

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04-29-2013, 10:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XX View Post
I'd hate to see Collins pull the "they won't sign me because I'm gay" card now that he has come out. I agree that the timing is suspicious. He was a borderline roster player before. I don't think this sends the right message. Society needs an active star player to come out, not a guy lucky to still be in the league. This could be a politically difficult situation for the NBA.

I think more openly gay players would be a great thing for the NHL, should a group ever decide to come out together. I cringe just saying that. It's putting a positive spin on a terrible situation. One shouldn't have to hide and feel reprisal for who they are inside. Commercially speaking, diversity is 'in'. The demographics of hockey make that a challenge, though.
Lame. I think he came out because he realizes that as a 34 year old role player, his career is all but over. This has nothing to do with posturing for the next contract. One of the most intelligent players in the game right now. He knows how to carry himself publicly.

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04-29-2013, 10:45 PM
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Whatever happened to those "well-known" NFL players that were supposed to come out? Did Collins just steal their thunder?

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04-29-2013, 10:51 PM
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Good for him. I'm excited for the day when a player coming out as gay will hardly make the news, when it's just an acceptable fact of life.

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04-29-2013, 11:25 PM
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Most MLB players say that a gay player would be accepted in baseball:

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?...s_mlb&c_id=mlb

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04-29-2013, 11:42 PM
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I don't think it's from teammates that people are worried about. It's the hateful crap they will hear from the fans, and the constant attention from the media that's keeping more guys from coming out. I imagine once the first real superstar comes out and the floodgates open, people are going to be surprised by the amount of gay pro athletes. I have friends and family in the gay community, and I've heard enough from them, even though they haven't told me any names, that surprised me.

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04-30-2013, 12:35 AM
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I don't think it was ever really a problem with teammates that would prevent players from coming out. They are professionals after all, this is their jobs, and even homophobic athletes would put their feelings aside to do their jobs.

The worry was always fan reactions, especially in conservative cities/sports cultures. I think the MLB is going to have the most trouble with gay athletes, considering the conservative, history-centered culture of MLB fandom that contrasts with the urban and diverse NBA fanbase, NFL's all-cross-sections of America fanbase, and the wealthy/educated/Canadian NHL fanbase. MLB has the oldest fans as well as a strong following among paleo-conservatives as an element of "traditional American culture".

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04-30-2013, 12:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheMoreYouKnow View Post
I doubt it has a negative effect in a commercial sense. The NBA tends to attract a pretty liberal crowd (more so than the NFL and baseball). It could maximize Collins' marketing value while reducing the number of teams willing to sign him (if your star player has a problem with gay teammates, you wouldn't sign him). Maybe Collins could get a few endorsement deals out of it.
Well, its interesting in the business sense as well from a commercial or endorsement perspective for professional athletes who do decide to come out. Just in the Tourism & Travel Industry alone, Tourist Boards, Resort Destinations, Cruise Lines & you name it long ago recognized the wealth this particular segment represented & began to actively market towards them, trying to capture the "Pink Dollar" as theyve termed it. Further, Its estimated the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual & Transgendered) Sector accounts for app 10% of all World Travel, about $600B in total annually.

For every $1 spent on advertising & marketing in LGBT media including sponsorships of Gay Pride Parades & community activities & events, they receive over $156 in return. Additionally, you have the LGBT European Games, the Gay Games (Summer & Winter, the Winter version held at Whistler several years ago & bringing in tens of millions to shops, restaurants, hotels & bars etc). Then theres products. Packaged goods that are LGBT specific. A lot of the major manufacturers, Proctor&Gamble etc targeting the LGBT audience. On & on. Its a niche' market, and one thats wealthy, responsive.

So ya, maybe Collins "gets lucky" and is picked as a spokesperson for whatever, but the fact is, he wont have to "get lucky". There will indeed be multi-nationals knocking on his agents door with various offers for LGBT specific travel, packaged goods, entertainment, financial services (who also advertise extensively to that segment), car manufacturers & retailers (they as well) and so on & so forth.. the other issues, teams un-willing to sign him, homophobia in the dressing, on the court, from fans or just people on the street or wherever, hey, gonna happen. Some people just have a real problem with it, be it moral and or religious, whatever. Societies made serious progress over the last 40yrs in that regard, Im sure in generations to come, far more open, understanding.

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04-30-2013, 05:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Killion View Post
Well, its interesting in the business sense as well from a commercial or endorsement perspective for professional athletes who do decide to come out. Just in the Tourism & Travel Industry alone, Tourist Boards, Resort Destinations, Cruise Lines & you name it long ago recognized the wealth this particular segment represented & began to actively market towards them, trying to capture the "Pink Dollar" as theyve termed it. Further, Its estimated the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual & Transgendered) Sector accounts for app 10% of all World Travel, about $600B in total annually.

For every $1 spent on advertising & marketing in LGBT media including sponsorships of Gay Pride Parades & community activities & events, they receive over $156 in return. Additionally, you have the LGBT European Games, the Gay Games (Summer & Winter, the Winter version held at Whistler several years ago & bringing in tens of millions to shops, restaurants, hotels & bars etc). Then theres products. Packaged goods that are LGBT specific. A lot of the major manufacturers, Proctor&Gamble etc targeting the LGBT audience. On & on. Its a niche' market, and one thats wealthy, responsive.

So ya, maybe Collins "gets lucky" and is picked as a spokesperson for whatever, but the fact is, he wont have to "get lucky". There will indeed be multi-nationals knocking on his agents door with various offers for LGBT specific travel, packaged goods, entertainment, financial services (who also advertise extensively to that segment), car manufacturers & retailers (they as well) and so on & so forth.. the other issues, teams un-willing to sign him, homophobia in the dressing, on the court, from fans or just people on the street or wherever, hey, gonna happen. Some people just have a real problem with it, be it moral and or religious, whatever. Societies made serious progress over the last 40yrs in that regard, Im sure in generations to come, far more open, understanding.
The problem is that he's a role player, it would be more obvious if he really was a star.

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04-30-2013, 06:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MartysBetterThanYou View Post
I don't think it was ever really a problem with teammates that would prevent players from coming out. They are professionals after all, this is their jobs, and even homophobic athletes would put their feelings aside to do their jobs.

The worry was always fan reactions, especially in conservative cities/sports cultures. I think the MLB is going to have the most trouble with gay athletes, considering the conservative, history-centered culture of MLB fandom that contrasts with the urban and diverse NBA fanbase, NFL's all-cross-sections of America fanbase, and the wealthy/educated/Canadian NHL fanbase. MLB has the oldest fans as well as a strong following among paleo-conservatives as an element of "traditional American culture".
Not true.



The NBA's is obviously the most skewed towards voting Democratic, but that's also because the NBA fanbase has the highest percentage of black fans, which doesn't mean homophobia is out of the question (though black America is reaching that great awakening period when it comes to homophobia, thanks to Obama and some religious leaders).

NHL fanbases are skewed Republican because most American NHL fans are well-off white people, and well-off white people tend to vote Republican. That doesn't mean they're homophobic, but there were always plenty of homophobic preppies when I was growing up and they also liked hockey.

Baseball's bang smack in the middle. Its fans are older and nostalgic, but they also live in cities (baseball's an urban game, always has been), usually cities near the coasts or in the more liberal upper Midwest, and tend to be well-educated. MLB also has a very strong share of the Latino market, which will pull its fans back towards the political center.

The NFL is a little to the right of it, probably due to the war imagery it uses so often or the violence in the game. As a lefty myself it turns me off the game sometimes and I would guess there are a higher percentage of female baseball fans than female football fans. NFL fans are a little bit less affluent than baseball's, which is why they're a little bit less likely to vote.

College football appears to be the likeliest candidate for homophobic fans, and that passes the smell test for me. Drunk students and grown men who take amateur sports way too seriously in socially conservative areas like the South would be a perfect candidate for the kind of bigoted taunting we all fear. They would be hell if they found out the other team's quarterback had a boyfriend. College fans pull immature crap all the time, so there's really no doubt they would be capable of doing something very homophobic.

Edit: also, paleo-conservative baseball fans? Like who? George Will? I can't think of any other prominent paleo who professes to really like baseball.


Last edited by HabsByTheBay: 04-30-2013 at 06:39 AM.
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04-30-2013, 08:16 AM
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Congrats to Jason.

Living a lie has got to be a painful existence and I'm happy for him.

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04-30-2013, 08:50 AM
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Ed Stefanski, VP Operations for the Toronto Raptors, and the man who drafted Collins when he began playing in the NBA with the New Jersey Nets was just interviewed on the Larry Flick show on Sirius OutQ108. Stefanski said that Collins is a minimum player, meaning he wouldn’t be expected to earn more than the minimum salary in the NBA. His skill set is average, he is not a superstar by any means and he is clearly on the tail end of his career. He’s 34 now but still has two, maybe three years left in him.

Stefanski said however, there are three things that make Collins remarkable. One, he may quite possibly have the “highest NBA IQ” in the league. He is literally one of the smartest players on the court. He understand the game better than most ever possibly could, and he will certainly make his way into management, maybe even coaching when his playing career ends. Two, he is 7’ tall. While he is old by most standards, and less mobile than he was, he can still get in under the net to defend and his size would still make him a real asset to any team, especially in late game situations. No coach would hesitate to slot him in as their third center and put him into a game at crucial moments. Three, his intelligence and experience make him a great role model and teacher for younger players. He is remarkably friendly, funny, smart and easy going. He is a natural leader and could easily help meld a team into a cohesive group. This third point seems to fly in the face of what many others are saying, that him being gay might become a divisive factor. Stefanski said quite the opposite and agreed with the host that this is indeed a watershed moment. Much like with Jackie Robinson, people will just eventually get over their own insecurities, or be made to get over them.

Stefanski said that because Collins is becoming a minimum free agent, he will likely be signed by a team near the end of the summer, possibly just before training camp. Nobody should conclude that him not being signed immediately in July is any indication of any adverse reaction to his coming out, but rather that it is just a structural expectation of the way teams sign this type of player and how they tend to leave till the last minute those players that can help fill important, albeit non-crucial, roles in their line-ups.

He also said he wouldn’t hesitate to sign Collins, although he didn’t say he would, or that he was necessarily looking for a player with his attributes. All in all, a very positive endorsement of Collins, the player and the man.

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04-30-2013, 09:04 AM
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An interesting "business" aspect of this is how tame and almost muted ESPN's reaction has been. I think it really gets in their craw that Sports Illustrated broke this story. Just like with hockey, ESPN has an agenda to minimize the exposure of anything that isn't directly under their control.

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04-30-2013, 09:23 AM
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An interesting "business" aspect of this is how tame and almost muted ESPN's reaction has been. I think it really gets in their craw that Sports Illustrated broke this story. Just like with hockey, ESPN has an agenda to minimize the exposure of anything that isn't directly under their control.
On top of that, throwing openly anti-gay Chris Broussard on live television to speak his mind. RATINGS! Followed, of course, by an official statement apologizing for it. Never change, ESPN. Never change.

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