There have been some important cultural milestones in sports lately surrounding gay athletes in male sports. Jason Collins was the first time one of the big, major US sports leagues had an active player come out. Previous to that is was basically ex-athletes revealing their orientation. Recently, a professional wrestler came out while still being active, a move that caused much less controversy than one would have expected from that corner of sports entertainment. It begs the question of where society, and other athletes, stand on the subject of gay athletes in sports, especially in the macho world of men's sports.
Outsports covers that subject and more for SB Nation. Their descriptor reads: The galactic leader in gay sports. They have been on the forefront of reporting on these stories and now they have another one. Derek Schell is a Division II basketball player at Hillsdale College and last month came out to his teammates and his coaches. Schell shared his experiences with Oursports going all the way back to his days as a kid in a riveting first-person account that shows Schell might have a future as a writer as much as a basketball player. Elegantly written, keenly self-aware, and ultimately rewarding; his account is required reading. His opening paragraph:
For the past 12 years, I have known at least four things to be true: the blue Power Ranger was the best Power Ranger; no one can coach basketball better than Mike Krzyzewski; the Green Bay Packers stand for everything that's right in this world; and I have always been different. I fully accepted the greatness of the first three, but tirelessly fought the last. For the longest time, I didn't exactly know what this different was. The turning point in my journey was the day I realized and accepted that this difference meant that I was gay.
His story is a fully-realized tale of a person struggling to balance competing forces in their life, of a person searching for happiness that continues to elude them, of a person who finally decides that his life is his own and that he will own it, not others. On some level, his story is not just about being gay, it's about a person finding their own place in the world and no longer worrying about what other might say or think. It's a story about liberation and freedom.
Part of Derek's conclusion:
In experiencing opposite ends of the spectrum in homophobia and in unconditional love, I have learned so many things from so many different types of people and haven't been limited to just one way of thinking. It has been a blessing in disguise. My sister's favorite quote, "Life is too short to be anything but happy," now resonates more significantly in my life. Not only is life too short to dwell on other people's expectations for you, but it is your decision to choose your attitude and how you react to your surroundings.
We wish nothing but the best to Derek and thank him for sharing his story with us. And thanks to Outsports for being trailblazers in sports journalism, they are bringing stories to life that many thought would never be told in sports.