Jason Collins came out as gay today. It's not very often that a career NBA journeyman (best season: 2004-05 with the New Jersey Nets, when he averaged 6.4 points and 6.1 rebounds in 80 games played) can make news that causes you to go, "What?"
But that's what I did when I heard on the radio this morning that Collins had written a beautiful first person piece for Sports Illustrated.
Over the course of the day, I've tried to think about where this ranks. Is this a big deal, small deal, or no deal at all?
It can't be no deal. Collins is the first active athlete in one of the three major league team sports in the United States to come out. That means something.
He's not a superstar or an indispensible cog; he's a bench player. He only played in 38 games this past season. That's a lot of DNP-CDs. He is 34 years old and is a free-agent come July 1, so he might have been a long shot to make a roster in the NBA next season anyway.
The natural inclination is to say that this is a small deal, but it would have meant more if, say, a superstar NFL player were to come out—someone who was a household name from coast to coast. That's what would cause a greater commotion. That would have more significance.
Even the little earthquakes can have great meaning.
Even the smallest breaking down of the closet door in the lockerroom can have a lasting impact.