Wednesday, Aug 20, 2014 08:21 pm est

Media reaction to Jason Collins unwarranted

Posted on May 5, 2013 | by Sam Barder

“Jason Collins: The First 24 Hours.” That was the headline on the Sports Illustrated website on Tuesday afternoon, a day after Collins announced he is gay. Sports Illustrated, ESPN and just about any sports journalism site you can think of have published responses, reactions, hopes, plans and congratulations to Collins.

Monday’s announcement, first depicted on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the headline “The Gay Athlete,” was a big deal. Collins is the first active player in any major American sport to announce he is homosexual. The responses ranged from the good (Kobe Bryant offered support), the bad (Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace tweeted he doesn’t understand homosexuality) and the ugly (ESPN analyst Chris Broussard noted Collins’ sin while insinuating homosexuality is a lifestyle).

The media ate this story up. They had been anticipating this day for at least a year. The tides of social expectations had been changing, and eventually someone was going to come out. But it was as if these writers, analysts, fans and commentators were surprised — how could they have been?

As much as ESPN and Sports Illustrated would like to blow this up with interviews of Collins — an attempt to make him the poster boy he has no interest in being — they have taken the most important part of his announcement away.

Headlines proclaiming Collins as “the” gay athlete move this conversation in the wrong direction. Collins is a gay athlete. There are more athletes just like him in the NBA, NFL and high school sports. Collins is just the beginning.

While credit and gratitude should be given where they are due — someone had to be brave enough to be first — let’s stop worrying about bad reactions, which is something Collins could probably care less about, and instead look forward to when he will step onto an NBA court next season. If Collins is signed by an NBA franchise, that moment will be historic. He will receive hugs, handshakes and maybe a standing ovation. He may also receive taunts and slurs. But that should be the extent of it — admiration and, hopefully, only a few jeers.

People never imagined an athlete could be gay until recently because male athletes are portrayed as macho, and societal stereotypes dictate that no manly person would ever be gay. But that logic has now been overturned. The manliest of athletes should have it in their best interest to support Jason Collins.

So why don’t we all leave Collins alone for a few months? Let him prepare for what will be his most important basketball season ever without constantly being in the spotlight. Let’s leave room for countless gay athletes to be who they are — finally. Let’s quit pretending that locker room situations will be awkward and stop trying to frame this in the broader gay rights debate. And please, can someone sign Collins to at least a one-year contract? For his sake — not mine, the media’s or the fans’. Collins just wants to play basketball.

Sam Barder is a contributing columnist. Email him at


profile portrait
Felipe De La Hoz

Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.


Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

  • How to join:

    The Washington Square News holds open weekly budget meetings at its office located at 838 Broadway every Sunday. All are welcome to attend, no matter your background in journalism, writing, or reporting. Specific times for meetings by desk are listed below. If you wish to talk to an editor before you attend, feel free to check out the Staff page.

    5 P.M. 6 P.M. 6 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 7 P.M.

    Applying for an editor position: Applications for editor positions during the fall or spring semesters are available twice each academic year and can be found here when posted. Applications for the Fall 2012 semester are closed, but check back for Spring 2013. Those who wish to apply are urged to publish pieces in the newspaper and contact current editors for shadowing.

    History of the Washington Square News:

    The Washington Square News is the official daily student newspaper of New York University and serves the NYU, Greenwich Village, and East Village communities. Founded as an independent newspaper in 1973, the WSN allows its undergraduate writers and photographers to cover campus and city news and continues to grow its strong body of award-winning journalists and photographers.

  • The WSN has a circulation of about 60,000 and can be found in over a hundred purple bins distributed throughout campus. It is published Monday through Thursday during the fall and spring semesters and online on Friday, with additional special issues published in the summer. The newspaper recently revamped its website during the Fall 2012 semester.

    Like few campus newspapers in the country, the paper is editorially and financially independent from the university and is solely responsible for selling advertisements to fund its production. The WSN, including its senior staff, is run solely by current undergraduate students and the business-division is largely student-operated as well.

    A Board of Directors comprised of alumni, NYU professors and working news media professionals serves as advisors to the paper. Board members have no control in the WSN's editorial policy or newsroom operations. Alumni of the newspaper are established and leading journalists in such news organizations as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC news, ABC news, Fox News, and USA Today.