I smiled when I read this line in Jason Collins’ first-person Sports Illustrated account.
“I’m glad I’m coming out in 2013,” he said, “rather than 2003.”
Ten years ago, I wrote a master’s thesis project for the San Diego Union-Tribune about a fact that Collins, with his announcement that should hit your mailbox today, has since made irrelevant: In the history of major American professional team sports, there had never been an active, openly gay male athlete.
I wrote that Mike Piazza once had to hold a press conference to say he wasn’t gay.
And that, in the history of the Big Four American team sports, only seven retired players have come out as gay.
Regardless of your feelings about homosexuality, you’d have to agree that those numbers are inconceivably low.
Sports Illustrated’s headline touting Collins as “The Gay Athlete” is wrong.
He’s one of hundreds, maybe thousands, in the history of big-time American team sports. To argue that fact is to be willfully ignorant of percentages.
Read this entire column in Wednesday's Arizona Daily Star.