You know how many times I get called a “Nigger” in a day? Be it from Twitter, emails, comments on the site or other parts of social media?
At least 20 times a day, every day for the last two years.
You know why it doesn’t bother me? Because no one has ever said it to my face and in those two years, while I have slowly, but surely built up my brand to the point, in the immortal words a famous nursery rhyme.
“Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
No matter who you are or what you are doing, there are risks in being your own person. People will continue to try to bring you down, no matter what you do or how comfortable you are with yourself.
Why do I mention this? Because as humans, we always fear backlash about anything we do that goes against the norm. It is human nature to be afraid to be different. What people don’t realize is being normal is boring, being yourself is fun.
Gay athletes are afraid of what people or teammates will think, but that missed out on a big opportunity that Jason Collins eventually figured out.
First, let me say, I am sure it must have been hard for Collins to initially come out to his family and friends, those are the people who really matter. Once he got over that hurdle, coming out to the public was the easy part. I commend him on it, but what others won’t say, is that it might have been the savviest business move of all time.
I do believe that Jason Collins wants to help others by coming out, but intentionally or unintentionally, he just help himself more than anything else.
Collins is at the end of his career and is a free agent. Meaning, there is no team that will feel the pressure to keep him on a roster because of his announcement. That is important, because now there will be pressure for a team to put him on a roster, because if they don’t. it will look like he is being blackballed The NBA doesn’t want that, they want an active gay player on the roster. That makes the timing of Collins announcement perfect.
The gay and lesbian community has looked for the perfect athlete to trot out as an example. that just because you are gay, that doesn’t make you any less of a man. A well-spoken, 7 Foot, Stanford graduate who happens to be African-American is their dream candidate.
No one in the public or the media can say anything negative about him or they will have to face the wrath of the mob mentality. Mike Wallace said a pretty mundane thing about how he didn’t understand why guys like men when a bunch of pretty women are around and was DESTROYED by everyone. So, while there are some athletes who might not be down with this, no way they are going to say anything and jeopardize the money in their pockets.
Collins himself will reap all the benefits of not necessarily being their first athlete to announce he is gay (plenty have come out before Collins), but the first athlete to do it in the Twitter age, from a major sports league. Collins overnight went from a NBA journeyman to trending worldwide.
National television interviews, endorsements, speaking engagements, parades, TV job, magazine covers and so much more will come his way.
It is the American Dream, all because Collins wasn’t afraid of what people would say behind his back, because he saw the potential windfall staring at him in the front.
I salute him, not just for being brave in coming out, but for being a brilliant businessman. Trust me there are 100s of gay athletes wishing they would have had open their closet to the riches that were staring right at them, but chose to stay in the dark.