ALBANY, NEW YORK, April 30, 2013—Jason Collins is gay and black. Tim Tebow is a Christian Caucasian. I am Jewish and already bored with them both. This should conclude media feeding frenzies about non-events disguised as “sports” reports.
Collins has been described as “a good guy.” Tebow builds orphanages for poor children across the globe. None of that has anything to do with sports.
Both of these men have been elevated to iconic status, symbols of what many people want their children to be. Words like “courage,” “bravery” and “leadership” have been carelessly thrown around.
The sad reality is that from a sports standpoint, neither of these men are significant. They are not even professional athletes right now. Fairly or unfairly, they are on the verge of being former athletes who want to avoid forced retirement.
Collins recently announced he is gay. Some people celebrated, others fumed, and the rest of us shrugged. He was put on the cover of Sports Illustrated for being the first professional athlete to publicly come out of the closet during his playing career.
The problem is that this description is technically untrue. He was good enough to last at least twelve years in the National Basketball Association. That should not be dismissed outright. He has been to the NBA Finals. However, he was not Michael Jordan or Lebron James. He was a “decent enough” player to play but was never a superstar.
Right now he would only be a role player coming off of the bench. That would be if a team signs him. His being gay is irrelevant. His being a marginal basketball player near the end of his career is the real issue.
If an individual wants to break the sports barrier, they must be a superstar on the field. Otherwise, the backlash could set back their entire movement. Jackie Robinson broke the baseball barrier because he was a great baseball player who happened to be black. Joe Gilliam was a failed quarterback who happened to be black. It was over a decade before another black quarterback was given an equal shot.
Tim Tebow is a devout Christian. He is also a young man near the beginning of his professional career who has a long way to go before being considered a successful quarterback in the National Football League.
The NFL is being asked when they will have a gay player, but the NFL has always been on the cutting edge of societal revolutions. Football racially integrated long before the Supreme Court struck down “separate versus equal.” The Green Bay Packers had a black head coach in the 1920s.
Religious Christians may be as scorned in the liberal media as gays are in black communities (which the liberal media refuses to point out since it pits two liberal constituencies against each other), but in sports the owners want to win. Long before Tim Tebow there was the “Minister of Defense,” Reggie White.
He sacked quarterbacks, belting them to the ground and then helping them up while telling them that Jesus loves them. He was instrumental in bringing a Super Bowl title to the Packers. His religiosity was accepted by teammates because he was a leader on the field. The “gentle giant” could be more giant than gentle when necessary. He was also a black man who was lovingly accepted in the overwhelmingly white city of Green Bay, Wisconsin. That comes with being a winner.
Some will say that Tim Tebow did not get a fair chance. Yet owners in Denver and New York thought he was not good enough to be their starter. He won some games in Denver, but that was aided significantly by a tough defense. Nobody who watches football would choose Tebow over his replacement, Peyton Manning.
The Jets tried to trade Tebow on draft day. They only asked for a seventh round pick, the lowest round that exists. The last pick in the seventh round is known as “Mr. Irrelevant.” That pick was deemed a better investment than Tebow by all 32 NFL teams.
Jason Collins has accomplished more at the professional sports level than Tim Tebow. Yet neither of them have approached the level necessary to have followers like Jackie Robinson and Reggie White did.
Both Collins and Tebow could theoretically get another opportunity to play professional ball. They could lead their teams to a championship, or very close to one. At that point they would absolutely become feel-good sports stories. Kurt Warner was a religious Christian who went from stocking grocery shelves to leading two NFL teams to a combined three Super Bowls, winning one. Warner has one Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award, two NFL regular season MVP awards, and the three highest Super Bowl passing performances.
Kurt Warner will make the Hall of Fame, where Jackie Robinson and Reggie White both reside in their respective sports. Those people matter in sports, giving deserved attention to their other greater societal achievements.
Jason Collins and Tim Tebow have done nothing to merit such attention. Fawning all over them defeats the very concept of the meritocracy that separates professional sports from the politically correct society at large.
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