Jason Collins is gay. What happens now?
In the hours that followed, there was a plethora of reactions. Some were very supportive of Collins. Words of admiration and encouragement came from a wide variety of places, from Bill Clinton to Kobe Bryant to Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson to the Boston Red Sox.
Then, of course, there were the obvious negative comments on Twitter, as always.
Most folks in the NBA seem to be pretty supportive so far. At least those who have voiced their opinion. We might see a fellow player comment negatively, but no one has done it publicly as of yet. Dolphins WR Mike Wallace tweeted out some quasi-homophobic tweets, but immediately deleted them.
The most prominent example of someone speaking out against Collins was ESPN NBA insider Chris Broussard, who was inexplicably brought on to discuss his views opposite openly gay ESPN columnist LZ Granderson. It resulted in an incredibly awkward exchange, with Broussard discussing his religious beliefs and how it related to Collins:
Honestly, I have no idea what possessed ESPN to have Broussard come on the show and spout off his personal evaluation of Collins' religious status, but that was a bit disturbing, at best.
The next question is whether or not Collins' announcement will have any influence on his future as an NBA player.
This is a rather tricky and complicated issue, since Collins was already a fringe NBA player to begin with. Last year, he was one of the last men off the bench for a bad team. He's currently a free agent, and it's quite likely that he wouldn't have been signed for next year, whether he came out of the closet or not.
If Collins is signed, some people have already said that they will see it as a publicity stunt. Realistically, despite the fact that Collins' Twitter account went from 3,000 followers to almost 90,000 in 24 hours, it's not like he's going to sell a bunch of jerseys or get a bunch of fans in the seats.
If he's not signed, there are some people who are bound to say that it will be because the league has blackballed him due to his homosexuality. Realistically, that's not the case either.
Jason Collins is right on the border of being a useful NBA player. There might be a few teams out there who could use him for a few minutes per game, but that's it. If he is signed, he'll still be one of the last guys off the bench, and that has nothing to do with who he sleeps with.
The fact that Jason Collins came out of the closet will likely have very little impact on his career. In fact, it's really not about him at all. The bigger impact will be on the others that come after him. Collins' actions might not make or break his career, but it will make it much easier for other homosexual athletes to be open and honest about their sexuality, and it will make it less of a big deal when other athletes make the announcement.
Honestly, guys like Chris Kluwe, who is straight but a fervent advocate of gay rights, will be more affected. The Vikings drafted a punter in the 5th round despite the fact that Kluwe had the best season of his career. Was it really a football move? Or was it a reaction to his political activism?
Collins' announcement makes it easier for the thousands of teenagers who are contemplating suicide, a common problem among gay teens. He could quite conceivably prevent hundreds or maybe thousands of suicides.
His decision was a monumental one. Partially for him, but far more for the others who will follow. It's not easy to be first, and Collins took on that mantle for everyone else after him. We'll see how it works out.