diversity | May 02, 2013

NBA: ESPN's LZ Granderson On Jason Collins & A New Era In Pro Sports

"At this point, where we are in society in 2013, the news of an openly gay athlete—to me anyway— just isn't that shocking." That was LZ Granderson's initial reaction to NBA free-agent center Jason Collins' announcement that he is gay. And, as ESPN's Tim Keown writes in an article featured alongside Granderson's interview, the fact that it's not shocking is a good thing. It means progress. There is still a hard conversation to come, however, if Collins signs to an NBA team for next season. He's come out in the off-season, which Granderson says is an important point. The real story will be told if he is accepted onto a team and actively plays. Because as Granderson (Senior Writer and Columnist for ESPN) says, the biggest obstacle will be if Collins is accepted as openly gay in the locker room. And, if there is a team who can find a place for him despite the "discomfort" some players have expressed about the issue.

Granderson experienced a similar hurdle himself when he first started in sports journalism. As one of the most visibly openly gay men in sports writing, he says that it was tough for him to find a job, initially. A lot of people just weren't comfortable opening up their locker rooms to him. That was back in the '90s, though. Granderson says he hopes that the locker rooms Collins could potentially be a part of would be more accepting today. Ultimately, however, Granderson says he is hopeful about the way things are unfolding—and happy Collins has experienced more positive responses than negative. Part of which, he adds, comes from the way he chose to make the announcement. "I love that fact that he took ownership of his story, and he shared his story, and it wasn't an outing," he says. "It comes from a position of strength."

Granderson doesn't shy away from tackling tough and often taboo subjects head-on. In his work with ESPN as well as his keynotes, he combines humor, grace, and candid personal anecdotes to address the intersection where athletics, race, identity, LGBT issues, and culture meet. His award-winning commentary is smart and on point—providing a refreshing new analysis of some of today's hot-topic issues.

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digital and social media | May 01, 2013