Originally posted May 1, 2013, on IndySportsLegends.com.
If you listened to all the hype the past several years, you would have sworn the world was going to implode when one person became the first openly gay athlete in America’s major sports.
Jason Collins did that yesterday. The world yawned, but not to suck itself into oblivion.
For all the hype, Collins’ announcement didn’t do anything on the sports Richter scale immediately after the word came down. I mean, Tim Tebow’s release is newsworthy. But it was hardly groundbreaking, and if you witnessed how Tebow and Collins were covered — at least early — by ESPN, you would have turned off the remote with legitimate concerns about the network’s reporting priorities.
Coverage ratcheted up through the day, and eventually it reached the levels expected with such a momentous announcement.
The thing that amazes me is not the congratulations coming Collins’ way in bunches (or, on the flip, condemnations from other circles). It’s just that when the announcement finally came…the way this came down, it didn’t seem like that big of a deal.
Why not? Not sure.
It could be the number of former athletes who have come out the past three to five years. It could be the number of athletes now starting to step forward as they transition from college to potential professional careers. It could also be American society has come to either accept this — or is simply tired of hearing about it.
When Brittney Griner came out a few weeks ago, discussion was hot and heavy about possible differences in men’s and women’s sports on sexual matters, specifically on the macho nature of men’s sports raising a barrier for those in the closet which is much lower in women’s sports. Turns out, though, there wasn’t much difference in how the announcement was received — which was the big thing for a lot of observers.
The headline came and went, people marked this sea change in cultural matters in their own way, and, right or wrong, everybody seemed to go about their business, waiting for the next can’t miss cultural watershed moment.
Make no mistake. This is a defining cultural, societal moment in America, like it or not. Maybe I’m misreading something, but it just doesn’t feel like it. Partly because of the early coverage, partly because of how American society has trended, it feels like, well, a yawner.