Monday, December 2, 2013

Out Of The Shadow

Jason Collins
Jason Collins journey of self-discovery started during the off season of the 2011 NBA lockout. Growing up in Los Angeles was not easy for him, his image was always tainted because he had to keep up the tough guy mentality since he was a athlete. Collins struggled each day to live a lie he just could not handle. He did not understand the magnitude of the issue he had with himself. Everyday he was living a life that he just did not want to live anymore. All the lies and cover ups finally started to eat away at his personal life. He realized that enough was enough and made a courageous leap toward a new life. At the age of 34 Jason Collins became the first openly gay athlete to play a major American team sport. Collins has played for six pro teams and has appeared in nine playoffs including two NBA finals. His decorated career had been over shadowed by his insecurity. The decision to make his private news public was not an easy task for the 34-year-old Collins. Seeing this great story will help people understand that living a lie will hurt you in the long run. It is a physical and mental journey but once that burden is off your shoulders it can make a world of a difference.

The standards that athletes have to live up too are so great because they are always in the spotlight. Athletes are iconic superstars, which is why we never fully understand their personal lives. We just view what we see on television and automatically assume they live the coolest lives. Sometimes we even forget that their humans since they have such an iconic image. Popular culture today especially with athletes has become a phenomenon, it is a different time period and times are changing. Understanding people's sexuality in today's society has become a whole lot easier. It was looked down upon in years past but now a days it really is accepted with open arms. It is really important to accept people for who they are which is what Collins could not grasp for most of his 34 years.

Life is not easy to begin with especially being a college student let alone being a collegiate athlete. Certain expectations are present in athletes as they represent the University for better or worse. Acceptance is another issue that the world faces each and everyday. No one wants to be an outcast, the world is very judgmental and can be extremely cruel. Some say it is a dog eat dog world out their which is why self acceptance is the most important quality to have. Next is acceptance of other people no matter race, gender, or ethnicity everyone needs to be treated as equal. Yes this is not an easy task but once we understand that no one is better than the other the world will be a better place to live in. Some of the negative aspects to life can be attributed to poor judgment of others and quick assumptions. That can also be attributed to todays popular culture, it is all about being cool and hip. But what about the people who are not there yet, what do we think about them? Everyone is so judgmental, which is why Jason Collins story is so moving. He did not care about what people though about him anymore, he only cared about what he thought about himself. His message has been sent in hopes that more professional athletes male or female will have the same courage he did.

The Rutgers Newark men's basketball team seems to be on the same page regarding social issues on and off the court. The team has "very good chemistry" says junior forward Chris Alberquerque, he explained that all the guys on the team seem to jell and have a good time. On the court it is strictly business because they are shooting for a DIII national championship title. Off the court and in the locker room is exactly the same, "everyone has a good time and we respect each other I think that is what makes us successful" says Alberquerque.

All the guys on the team respect one another and their personal privacy. When asked about the issues regarding having a gay teammate Christian Garcia stated "Me personally it wouldn't affect me on or off the court, I come in everyday and put my work in and have fun with all the guys on the team." When asked about Jason Collins and his story Garcia said "You know I think its pretty cool that he didn't care what anybody thought, the guy wants to live his life the way he wants and I'm alright with that". It just goes to show that even on a college sports team everyone is respect because it's a family.

Collectively the guys on the Rutgers Newark Basketball team agreed and they said that it wouldn't affect them if they had a gay teammate. It goes to show that the respect that teammates have for one another is so high. Professional and Collegiate athletes are the same, everyone has their own opinion whether it is good or bad. Jason Collins influence and presence has been felt on the Rutgers Newark basketball team. It just reassured that social change is happening and that athletes are realizing that homosexuality is not an issue for them. Not only for athletes but also for every one that is struggling to realize who they are as a person. Collins story is a true inspiration for anyone that feels trapped in the world looking for answers.


Sports Illustrated Article 

Spots Illustrated Interview 

Rutgers Newark Basketball 

Sports Illustrated Behind the story

USA Today 

NY Times 

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