Another month, and another major breakdown of barriers in the world of sports.
Today, in an article for ESPN(W), UMASS player Derrick Gordon came out to the world as the first gay active male player in division 1 college sports. Eventually it may not be big news when this happens, but for right now it is. We now have an openly gay player in the NBA (Jason Collins) will soon probably have one in the NFL (Michael Sam) and now one at the highest level of college sports.
The bravery of these men coming out is likely to inspire more players to come out. Though, I wouldn't be surprised if it mostly comes from college players like Sam and Gordon rather than players that have been active in professional sports for a long time.
UMASS made the tournament this year after a surprising season, but was trounced by Tennessee. I asked a buddy of mine, who is the biggest UMASS fan I know (not saying much), about Gordon's announcement. His response:
the 5th best player on the worst team in the tournament this year is gay
So, yeah, players coming out as gay is increasingly becoming less of a big deal, which is certainly a good thing.
One thing to remember is that these are all still significant. In the article, Gordon talks about the great weight that's been lifted off of his shoulders. Even his teammates acknowledge that he seems like a whole different person after getting the burden of staying in the closet off his back.
While it may be insignificant to basketball, or most of our lives, it's certainly significant to the tons of closeted people out there struggling with the same decision as Gordon. Coming out in public and sharing that story can inspire them to ultimately be true to themselves and live happier lives as a result of it.
That's at least the takeaway I got from the article linked above.
Some other interesting notes:
- When Gordon came out to his team, his coach told the players Gordon had an announcement to make. Seeing that Gordon was too nervous, Coach Derek Kellogg...
There was a pause. And then Kellogg tried breaking the ice. "I wanted to let you all know I'm gay," the coach said. His players all looked at him, stunned. What?
Gordon took his cue and spoke up.
"No, he's not. But I am."
- Gordon also received a lot of support from former Celtic and current Net, Jason Collins. He was inspired by Collins and Sam's public coming out to do so himself.
He had closely watched the news around NBA veteran Jason Collins and NFL prospect Michael Sam, both of whom are active players and have publicly acknowledged being gay. About a year ago, Gordon befriended former NFL player Wade Davis, who is now the executive director of You Can Play. Davis introduced Gordon to Anthony Nicodemo, the boys' basketball coach at Saunders High School in Yonkers, N.Y., who came out as gay last year. Davis and Nicodemo, along with several others, including Collins, mentored Gordon behind the scenes.Mike Saver 4/09/2014 03:32:00 PM Tweet