It’s amazing to consider the different public reaction to two Sports Illustrated stories, separated by a mere 14 years.
Jason Collins’ announcement of his sexuality caused a media sensation and was seen as a positive step forward for the National Basketball Association and professional sports in the U.S.
In fact, the media coverage seemed to be taking a page right out of the script of an episode of “Glee” as sportswriters the nation over sang the praises of Collins’ “courageous” declaration.
Other professional athletes tweeted out their approval and provided their obligatory congratulations. Athletes in the past who had made “homophobic” comments were now lauded for their tolerance, as one tweet can erase a past mired in “ignorance” and bring someone forward into 2013 “enlightenment.”
Chris Broussard, a Christian ESPN commentator who took a fairly strong stand against Collins, will likely receive a smooth talking to by some of the higher-ups at the organization about tolerance and diversity.
Now, on the heels of an announcement that Robbie Rogers, an American professional soccer player who walked away from the game after announcing on Twitter he is gay a few months ago, the entire sports world (or the world of sports journalism) seems to be waiting with bated breath the next to emerge from the proverbial closet and bathe in the sun of instant adulation.
Well, get ready for it; I’m about to make an announcement.
I am not gay, but I am a conservative who speaks impolite truths about topics we’re not supposed to mention in polite society anymore. And by “polite” society, I mean a culture whose every idea must be vetted through the writers’ room of “Glee” for approval.
I’m looking around, but I don’t see any press excited about my “coming out.” Surprisingly, I don’t think I will receive any tweets, text messages, or emails in the next hour from friends, family, athletes, or bullpen catchers I knew back in the minors telling me how proud they are of me or how “strong” I am.
This whole Jason Collins saga should be a powerful reminder of why those individuals who are in the public eye (primarily athletes and actors) and who also harbor conservative views on politics don’t speak up. For a historical lesson, they can just look at what happened to me back in late 1999-2000 as a case study.
Curiously, like Collins’ announcement, my original “coming out” as a conservative was also in the pages of Sports Illustrated.
A few minutes of searching on Google will pull up a lot of articles that detail the response I received when the Sports Illustrated profile was published.
Robert Griffin III might find himself in some hot water, as I’m sure his agent received calls from the Redskins organization and all of the sales reps for his litany of endorsement deals after he posted cryptic comments on Twitter in the wake of Jason Collins’ announcement.
Griffin made the point that we live under a politically correct tyranny, and, as a former, if not lifelong, member-POW of that same system, I can attest to its power.
In virtually every media interview I’ve done since the Sports Illustrated piece on me from 1999, the first topic that invariably comes up is if I’m sorry and apologize for what I said then.
Funny what an article in Sports Illustrated – a cover story no less – can do for the career of Jason Collins in 2013.
But back to Griffin’s cryptic Twitter comments, which may have been in reference to the recent Collins announcement – they were spot on. We do live in a nation governed by a politically incorrect tyranny, an orthodoxy that targets any individual who dares stray too far from the fields of acceptable discourse.
Look no further than another NFL quarterback who hasn’t been so lucky.
Tim Tebow was told to tone down his faith by the politically correct establishment, which can’t stop talking about Collins’ “courage.”
Despite leading his team to the playoffs in 2011 and acting like a positive role model for today’s youth, he currently finds himself as a man without a job. Some of this has to do with his quarterback style, but let’s not pretend it has nothing to do with his religious views.
Athletes in many ways are a reflection of the culture, but also can be tools used to push a narrative of acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
I’ve been in locker rooms before. The best teams I was on were united to win without the drama from one’s personal life interfering in the day-to-day regimen of focusing on winning a championship.
Unfortunately for me, I didn’t realize that speaking my mind (and having many of comments back in 1999 taken out of context and manipulated to fit the agenda of the journalist writing the Sports Illustrated story) was no longer tolerated if it didn’t fit within the tiny narrative of politically correct verbiage, but instead would conflate into a media vortex that sucked down on my ability to perform as a pitcher in Major League Baseball, as well as becoming a circus and distraction for my teammates.
Those who make politically incorrect statements in America instantly become an enemy of the state, a pariah. There’s not much value in speaking your mind, as I did to Sports Illustrated, only to become the world’s worst person.
But in a sign of the times, Jason Collins spoke his mind to Sports Illustrated and instantly became the world’s best person (for a couple of days at least).
That should put the idea of “courage” into perspective.