Arguably one of the most important, transcending and incredible stories we’ve ever seen in sports; NBA center Jason Collins has become the first active male pro athlete to come out as gay. Collins did so in a co-written piece with Franz Lidz in the upcoming issue of Sports Illustrated. However, it’s nowhere near as important as the fact that Tim Tebow was just released by the Jets, or at least that’s how SportsCenter sees it.
I mean really, when you claim to be “The Worldwide Leader in Sports” at least act like it. Tim Tebow is an irrelevant, terrible quarterback whose love for Jesus reaches farther than he can throw, literally. SportsCenter incessantly covers this guy no matter the circumstance, and to both fans and journalists like myself, it’s infuriating.
The Jason Collins story transcends and shifts our idea of what it would be like if a pro athlete came out. Collins has always been a tough guy, setting hard picks, shutting down the likes of Shaquille O’Neal, and making countless other hustle plays. He said it himself in Sports Illustrated, “I go against the gay stereotype, which is why I think a lot of players will be shocked: That guy is gay? But I’ve always been an aggressive player, even in high school.”
With this being an immensely important story in sports journalism, why is it on SportsCenter’s back burner behind Tim Tebow and the Los Angeles Lakers? Is it really that hard to diverge from your regular coverage of the wounded, defeated Lakers and an equally defeated Tebow? Sure it’s worth a mention, but the majority of the program needs to cover this Collins story in its entirety. It’s too important to be ignored in such a way.
I for one am incredibly proud of the courage it took for Jason Collins to come out. In the intolerant world of men’s professional sports–a world where the word “faggot” is thrown around loosely at other players, coaches and officials–Collins’ coming out is a breath of fresh air, and a step in the right direction towards equality.
There’s no equality of importance for ESPN when it comes to this story. The Tim Tebow piece written by Rich Cimini contains 1,063 words, and countless links and videos such as Ron Jaworski “breaking down” Tebow’s release. Collins’ story garners a mere 611 words, and a second tier placement on ESPN’s list of headlines.
Still on ESPN.com the story sits below Tebow, and isn’t even the first featured story on THE FRONT PAGE! How is this not the number one story? Does it not matter enough that Collins is breaking down the homophobic stereotype of athletes? Apparently not, as evidenced in a Deadspin article published earlier today. Sports journalism is dying before our very eyes.
If ESPN is uncomfortable with the Collins story, that’s a problem. It’s understandable for the average Joe to feel uncertain about an openly gay professional athlete, but if you’re the biggest sports news outlet in the world, you can’t live under a rock and report the least amount of information possible. This guy is changing American sports culture as we know it, so give the story the recognition it deserves. Don’t hide behind Skip Bayless’s favorite nobody in an attempt to overshadow the biggest sports story of our generation.