News that veteran NBA journeyman Jason Collins reveals that he's gay in an essay featured on the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated had barely broken Monday morning when every heterosexual sports commentator with a Twitter account attempted to explain what it means. Many adopted the view that learning someone is gay should not be a big deal in 2013.
Others, like ESPN basketball analyst Chris Broussard, adopted a conservative Christian stance, arguing that Collins can't be both gay and a Christian. "That's walking in open rebellion to God and Jesus Christ," said Broussard on ESPN's Outside the Lines. In another interview, Broussard said "a lot of people understand it's a politically correct climate, and even players that don't agree will not necessarily voice that opinion."
That message has been echoed by others this week, as though it's a dark day for free expression or the marketplace of ideas when basketball players feel reluctant to spout their homophobic thoughts.
Broussard was never an NBA player, but he's probably right that some players who are not thrilled by the thought of sharing a locker room with a gay teammate are worried about being criticized if they go public with their views. And maybe he even feels persecuted by the swift reaction to his own comments, but he's the one who decided to speak for Jesus on a sports talk show.
Two years ago, Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, the league's highest-profile player at the time, was caught on video calling referee Bennie Adams a "fucking faggot." Instead of excusing the slur as something said in the heat of the moment, some of Bryant's fellow players chastised him and called on all players to do better.
Calling Bryant out for being stupid, insensitive and a bad representative of his profession was completely appropriate. The same goes for any response to the handful of those using Collins' coming-out as an opportunity to spout their homophobia.