Jason Collins RumorsAll NBA Players
Height: 7-0 / 2.13
Weight:259 lbs. / 117.9 kg.
Height: 7-0 / 2.13
Weight:259 lbs. / 117.9 kg.
Sports Equality Foundation, an organization focused on empowering athletes and coaches to publicly come out, launched on Wednesday. The foundation branched off of the work of the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation, which has focused on anti-bullying to the LGBT community for the last five years in the U.S. and United Kingdom. While similar groups are focused on speeches and sensitivity training, Outsports.com co-founder Cyd Ziegler told USA TODAY Sports “we believe the singular most important tool to changing sports is people coming out.” Ziegler will serve on the foundation’s advisory board. Joining him will be Jason Collins, the first out NBA player, and Billy Bean, an openly gay former MLB player who serves as the league’s ambassador for inclusion, among others.
In an interview after the roundtable, Collins said he was not concerned with Clinton’s past remarks on same-sex marriage. Clinton has openly spoke against legalizing same-sex marriage, including during debate in the Senate in 2004 against a proposal to amend the constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. “I believe that marriage is not just a bond, but a sacred bond between a man and a woman. I have had occasion in my life to defend marriage, to stand up for marriage, to believe in the hard work and challenge of marriage,” Clinton said. “So I take umbrage at anyone who might suggest that those of us who worry about amending the Constitution are less committed to the sanctity of marriage, or to the fundamental bedrock principle that exists between a man and a woman”
Collins sees the distraction defense as a convenient excuse for something else and offers a pointed critique of Dungy’s view. “If you were to ask Tony Dungy if he feels like homophobia is in his level of thinking or if he’s homophobic, he’d say no,” Collins says. “Well, if you were to ask Donald Sterling if he sees how his comments are racist, he said no, too. Some people don’t recognize their own racism, homophobia. His awareness, and people like him, are the problem.” Dungy declined comment when offered an opportunity to respond.
Last summer, NBC analyst and former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy said he would not have drafted Sam. “Not because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play,” Dungy told the Tampa Tribune, “but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it.” That still rankles Collins. He says when he joined the Nets “there was this myth that I’d be a distraction,” but that “after two weeks, it was back to business as usual. There are only so many times you can write the story about the gay teammate.”
Collins believes a lot of assistant coaches are afraid to come forward for fear of ruining their chances of receiving head coaching opportunities. “A lot of those assistant coaches are waiting for that head coach to step forward and show that level of leadership,” Collins said. “The culture still has a long way to go to still embrace an openly gay coach, as well. We need that at the collegiate level and professional level.” It was a difficult decision for Collins, and he said his responsibility is to make that decision easier for those who follow him. “There is always work to be done,” he said. “Working the NBA level, the culture has changed so much and we talked about it as far as the language in the locker room and stressing to the players that this is the way the country is going. It’s great to see people being accepted. There are those people that I am in contact with that aren’t ready yet to step into the public. So it’s my job to create that environment and work with straight allies because we can’t do this alone in the LGBT community.”
Collins participated in a panel on diversity and inclusion hosted by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. Brought up in that discussion was the potential of coaches to make the same public leap as Collins did two years ago. “There still is a culture in sport that we need more coaches to live an authentic life,” he said. “I know that there are a lot of coaches, particularly in college coaching, who are living their private lives up to a certain point and it’s sort of like we need a [Apple CEO] Tim Cook, when he did write that op-ed and officially came out. This is a CEO and leader of one of the biggest companies in the world fully acknowledging and saying that he’s sacrificing his private life for the sake of the greater good.”