With the sports world praising Brooklyn Nets center Jason Collins and many across the NFL offering words of support to former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, coming out as a gay athlete is a "non-event."
That was the phrase used by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who appeared on CNN's Piers Morgan Live Tuesday evening to discuss many topics—not the least significant of which being homosexuality in sports. Cuban, long thought as one of the NBA's most innovative and forward-thinking owners, praised the progress not only in the sports world but in society as a whole for being more accepting of alternative lifestyles.
"It's a non-event now. It actually, literally, is a non-event," Cuban said. "Ever since Jason came out and MLS player Robbie [Rogers], it's changed radically. How many states now allow gay marriage? And [homosexuality] has become so accepted, it's a non-event. Just in the span of six, 12 months, it's changed dramatically."
Outspoken as always, Cuban has been one of many touting the "no big deal" school of thought when it comes to Collins and Sam. It's a murky ground to traverse. While acknowledging the historic accomplishment of Collins—the first publicly active gay player in the United States' four major professional sports—Cuban's point is we should be advanced enough as a society for sexuality to not fracture opinion.
"I think it's no big deal and that's exactly the way it should be," Cuban told reporters earlier this week. "He's been playing in the league forever. The guy's known. As long as they get their a-- kicked in the playoffs, that's all I care about."
When Morgan pointed to political efforts meant to constrict homosexuality or even criminalize it, Cuban reiterated his point. According to Cuban, the "real world" does not care about a person's sexuality—something he called a "beautiful thing."
As for ticket-holders—the people who give NBA teams the money to keep the machine running—Cuban also indicated zero problems. No fans have contacted him and warned they would avoid Mavericks games if the team signed a gay player, something Cuban took as a sign of progress. He also praised Collins as the "perfect" player to signal a changing of the culture because of his veteran presence.
Collins, who signed with Brooklyn on Sunday night, came out in a first-person Sports Illustrated article last April. The 35-year-old center went without a team through the All-Star break, as many across the nation grew wary he would go the entire season unsigned. But the Nets' need for a big man after trading Reggie Evans to the Kings and losing out on buyout candidate Glen Davis gave Collins a perfect opportunity.
Brooklyn rightfully signed Collins for basketball reasons, but that hasn't stopped the flooding of support. NBA commissioner Adam Silver praised the move, telling Bleacher Report's Howard Beck:
I’m excited for Jason. I’m honored, in so many ways, that the NBA presented to him a comfortable environment in which he both felt comfortable coming out last April, and one in which an NBA team felt comfortable signing him based on his ability, and in no way to make a political statement.
Collins played 11 minutes in his first game back, failing to score a point on one shot attempt. But, in typical Collins fashion, he grabbed two rebounds and committed five fouls—a signal that these whirlwind months have not taken away his noted toughness. Here's to hoping Cuban is right, and that Collins is allowed to go through the rest of the season unimpeded while blazing a trail for more like him in the future.
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