Jason Collins: Black, Gay; and Jewish Piggybacking

SI_jason-collins

SI_jason-collinsEarlier this week, in a well-orchestrated series of events, NBA basketball athlete Jason Collins came out as a gay man and became the first active athlete on a major American sports team to be open with his homosexuality. In his cover story essay for Sports Illustrated, Collins wrote, “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay…” The Stanford University graduate has played for the Wizards, Celtics, and Hawks. He added that, “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.”

Other athletes, including Kobe Bryant, were quick to offer their support for Collins – many via Twitter – as were POTUS Barack Obama and FLOTUS Michelle Obama.

Cynically, perhaps, many organizations were also quick to celebrate the news, but to also use this media event for their own agendas. The HRC: Human Rights Campaign used it for fundraising; but fortunately the JNF did not use it for tree sales.

Rabbi Evan Moffic of Chicago’s Congregation Solel wrote about Collins on BeliefNet. Moffic, a graduate of Stanford, attended several of Collins’ games as an undergraduate and graduated in the same class. Rabbi Moffic used the event to teach that all humans, even athletes, deserve the opportunity to live with dignity; that every person is created in the image of God; faith requires humility: to pretend that we know who God says we can love or not love is to move from humility to hubris; and that honesty and openness bring out the best in humanity. (Moffic’s free book is available on Beliefnet)

Actor Jason Segal (How I Met Your Mother) used to play with Jason Collins and Collins’s twin brother, Jarron. He discussed his high school basketball team games with the brothers with the press, and plugged his upcoming series of children’s books for Random House.

Howard Kurtz, at one time the most important media pundit in America, and now quickly on the decline for past errors of fact was sort of dismissed or mutually agreed to leave The Daily Beast (Newsweek) this week after he said that Collins – who was once engaged to be married – was playing ‘both sides of the court.’

Breitbart.com’s editor-at-large Ben Shapiro tweeted that America’s measure for heroism has changed a lot since Normandy, and he appeared on CNN last evening to say that Collins was neither courageous nor heroic for coming out as gay, and compared it to his own wearing a yarmulke on national television or Piers Morgan having a British accent – Just being who one is. Shapiro said, “I’m Jewish… I wear a yarmulke on TV. There is a lot of anti-Semitism. There are people who are killed in anti-Semitic attacks — you know, per capita as many hate crimes against Jews as against gays in this country. America is not an anti-Semitic country and I am not a hero for wearing a yarmulke. Being who you are in 2013 in America is what America is about. It is not heroic to be who you are publicly. I’m glad for Jason Collins if he feels he is going to live a happier life now, but it does not make you a hero to be who you are.”

The half-Jewish statistician Nate Silver wrote that, “Collins ended the season as a 34-year-old free agent who mostly came off the bench” Analyzing whether NBA players with similar records in the prior season found a job as free agents in the current season, Silver notes that 11 of 18 did, making the odds slightly in Collins’s favor of landing a job. He added that Collins’s announcement is a braver move than it would have been if he were assured of a job next season.

Never let a good media event go unexploited. Ummm… Just as I am doing with this posting :-)

1 Comment

  1. Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui

    5/4/2013 at 2:15 am

    Homosexuality is not deserving of the approbation of man. We can not overlook condemning those, who, through their own bad use of their faculties, are vicious to the good and perfection of the human system.

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