Within the rosters of the association, the response from some of the league's biggest players has been almost unanimously positive.
Future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant:
Fellow future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade:
Expressions of support from players across the NBA led Collins to offer this tweet (incidentally, from an account that went from 4,000 followers to nearly 80,000 followers, at last check):
However, not everyone was as welcoming of the news as luminaries like Bryant and Wade. Follow me across the fold for two fairly egregious examples and then add your name to Daily Kos' petition applauding Jason Collins for his courage in becoming the first athlete from the "big four" team sports associations to come out from the shadows and make it easier for the next generation of athletes to be judged on their skills alone.
One of the first pointed criticisms of Collins came from one of ESPN's stable of basketball analysts, Chris Broussard. Appearing on the network's news program "Outside the Lines," Broussard ignited a firestorm with the following comment:
“If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, (but) adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals … I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ,” Broussard said. “I would not characterize that person as a Christian, because I don’t think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian.”Broussard's critique, however, was practically well-reasoned compared to a most regrettable Twitter meltdown by veteran CBS sports radio host and television commentator Tim Brando.
Brando's very bad evening began fairly benignly. Brando took to Twitter to object, in fairly mild terms, to many folks referring to Collins' actions as heroic. This is the tweet that started the cascade:
This led to a bit of a Twitter debate on his point, including a dissenting opinion from fellow CBS basketball analyst (and talk radio host) Doug Gottlieb. One reader, an aspiring broadcaster named Amanda Busick, insisted that Brando might regret the tweet.
This, in turn, led someone to ask in passing why Collins should be praised for his statements, and yet Brando was being condemned for his opinions. It was this rather benign attempt at playing Twitter referee that led Brando to shit the bed in spectacular fashion:
The stupid burns here on so many levels. No one said anything about his age. Or his faith. Or his being white. Or his being male. This was, to utilize a sports phrase, the ultimate in unforced errors. Brando took a fairly benign swipe and turned it into a 140-character jeremiad against the oppressed middle-aged Christian white male, a group that at last check has been oppressed to the tune of being somewhere on the order of 95 percent of our history's presidents.
Unbelievably, and perhaps unfortunately for Brando, it continued to get worse:
Um...well... Dammit. I got nothin'.
Later in the evening, Brando made what must be characterized as a lame attempt at damage control:
Conventional wisdom would probably dictate that Tim Brando would have probably been much better served calling it a night several hours earlier than he had.
Look, whether or not a professional athlete coming out as gay is heroic or not is actually a legitimate topic for debate. Some people want to define the term very narrowly, and while I may not agree with that assessment, it is a perfectly valid opinion to have.
But the vitriol that followed underscored the real stench coming off of many of Collins' critics and detractors today. Brando's diatribe via Twitter may have well started out in a defensible place (with haggling over the definition of heroic), but it sure didn't end there.
And it is not hard to figure out why Brando went from 0-to-incoherent anger in about 3.5 tweets: he's outnumbered. Part of his frustration, which boiled over in that inane comment about the devaluation of married Christian white dudes over 50 (alas, a group I will join in 9.5 years), is that one suspects he knows that he is outnumbered.
And this is where the rest of us come in.
Help Brando, and those like him, know that they are outnumbered. Add your name to Daily Kos' petition applauding Jason Collins for his courage in becoming the first athlete from the "big four" team sports associations to come out from the shadows and make it easier for the next generation of athletes to be judged on their skills alone.