On Monday, NBA player Jason Collins became the first male professional athlete in this country to come out as gay. The revelation was widely embraced by people from all walks of life, inside and outside the sporting world. Collins' decision could pave the way for other athletes to do the same.
UConn coach Kevin Ollie played with Collins in Minnesota during the 2008-09 season and shortly after Collins' announcement, Ollie offered these thoughts.
“I imagine it will impact other people’s decisions,” Ollie told the Hartford Courant's Dom Amore, “if you have one person come out, it helps other people who might have a question in their mind -- should I go out or should I cover it up? -- to live their life and be who they are. You can’t live a double life. If this gives other athletes an opportunity to come out, I think that’s a good thing.
“… I have no idea [how it will be received in the NBA]. There’s probably going to be some resentment [at first], like with anything else. When Magic Johnson came out with the [HIV], people just didn’t know, there were people saying ‘I don’t want to play with Magic.’ But once everybody understood, once you got all the feedback, you got all the opinions out of the way and you really looked at him as a person, he became accepted. Hopefully this shall pass and we accept it as, ‘everybody has their right to their opinion and how they live their life.’”
Earlier this month, the first overall pick in the WNBA Draft, Brittney Griner, formerly of Baylor, acknowledged that she was a lesbian.
“It’s just being who you are,” Griner told SI.com at the time. “Don’t worry about what other people are going to say, because they’re always going to say something, but, if you’re just true to yourself, let that shine through. Don’t hide who you really are.”