The Objective Scoreboard

The postmodern goo continues its attack on basic reality. Jason Collins is now the first ever pro sports player to be openly gay. Gauging the reaction, you might be led to believe that the revelation is as big of a deal as Jackie Robinson or something…oh wait. People are explicitly making those comparisons now.

What I’m about to say is related to the fact that gay is not the new black, no matter how much our culture really wishes to frame the debate.

As someone said recently, institutional racism first began to crumble in sports, because abstract lies can’t survive an objective scoreboard. Jackie Robinson’s talent could not be questioned. Those who did were objective idiots.

But now we have the opposite effect. An average NBA player, by most accounts, comes out as gay, and suddenly he’s on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The objective scoreboard, like everything else in our flailing culture, is now subservient to the sexual preferences of those involved. The press now moves to glorify the accomplishments of a man who, for the most part, has had a pretty mediocre career.

When I say mediocre, I’m obviously comparing his career to those we would call “top tier” in his profession. Me playing Collins in basketball would be a frog versus a fly situation. Being gay doesn’t suddenly make him better at basketball, anymore than having black hair makes me a better cook.

To compare him to Robinson also cheapens the true bigotry that existed back then. Robinson was barred from playing in the Major Leagues. Collins has been playing in the NBA for years, with people happy to pay him millions of dollars to do so. While I certainly wouldn’t want to lessen the harmful effects of words and locker room slurs, or whatever may cause the ears of those in the closet to burn, this is not a situation of widespread, institutionalized bigotry, and we shouldn’t treat it as such.

The press will continue to spin this as demolition for a major wall, and that now other pro athletes currently playing will feel more comfortable coming out of the closet. The key phrase in this is other pro athletes currently playing. To compare it to Robinson’s time shows a frantic leaping for straws, and comes across about as desperate as a bad car salesmen trying to reach his quota.

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