No, Being Openly Religious is Not Comparable to Jason Collins

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“How is it that the media crucifies Tim Tebow for proclaiming his faith in public, but can call Jason Collins a hero because he admitted he likes dudes?”- derp_mcdumbass69 from the internet

 

Ok, Derp. Just sit back, relax and focus on what I’m saying to you. I’m going to explain all the ways your position is illogical, stupid and just plain wrong. Sit tight, this will take a few minutes.

I’ll start with your insinuation that being loud about one’s Catholic faith is a more courageous, difficult and risky decision than someone (a professional basketball player, no less!) coming out of the closet. In short, that is ridiculous. We live in a culture that puts the (Christian) religion on a pedestal. We put emphatic preachers on TV and 7 million people tune in to watch each week. We still pledge allegiance as “one nation, under God.” We give Tim Tebow a massive and devout fanbase despite the fact that his passing statistics are JaMarcus Russell-esque. Jesus stuff sells. Hell, even Taylor Swift has made it a point to throw religion in her lyrics, and Taylor Swift is actually an android designed for the specific purpose of garnering publicity and selling records.

 Taylor Swift @ 43rd Annual CMA Awards2

You don’t wear T-shirts…

 

Is that the kind of persecution you face? Sure, Tebow has gotten some slack for his faith, but he also has legions of fans and supporters, far more than any backup quarterback with a career 47.9% completion percentage in history. It’s hard to imagine how one could think Tebow has suffered due to his outgoing religious nature, as he sure appears to have benefited far more than he has held back by his religion. Without his cult-of-personality (largely built up due to his faith), Tebow would’ve been a late round pick who would’ve struggled to make an NFL roster. That’s assuming that anyone would actually let someone with his throwing motion play a snap at Quarterback.

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Ok, shut up Joe Webb. You stay out of this.

If Tebow had been a legitimately good pro, he would have become a folk hero. He would be reveled for his faith, just as he was in college, just as he was during his fluky but entertaining run with the Broncos and just like notorious Christian preacher-types Ray Lewis and Reggie White were. Hell, praying on the cover of Sports Illustrated (twice!) was enough to get people to forgive and forget about Ray Lewis’ involvement in a double-murder. That sure is some persecution!

Ironically enough, it’s a testament to the amount of sway religion has over people that gay rights are still even a debated subject. Is there any remotely logical argument against gay rights? The only predominant argument I’ve heard against gay rights boils down to “The Bible is against it so therefore it is morally wrong.” Let me be the one to inform that trying to keep gay rights suppressed because of your personal religious beliefs is the equivalent of taking a dump all over the separation of church and state (a concept introduced in the first amendment of the constitution that you likely proclaim to love and defend). Letting one religion dramatically influence legislation means wrongfully subjecting people against their will to a specific set of beliefs. That is the opposite of religious freedom, one of the very pillars that this country was founded on. In fact, its downright oppressive. Yet, when someone merely challenges the fact that your religion has such an inappropriate amount of influence and power, you throw your hands up and claim that you are “persecuted.”

Perhaps you wouldn’t be “persecuted” if your church was the single largest force opposing civil rights for a specific group of people. Hell, perhaps you wouldn’t feel so “persecuted” if you didn’t view any legitimate criticism of your church as “persecution.”

Not to mention that being religious is a choice. Being gay isn’t, no matter how badly you may want it to be. And, by the way, homosexuality is far too prevalent, both in our culture and amongst people in general, to write off as some weird statistical anomaly or defect. If being gay is some kind of flaw, then our omnipotent creator sure fucked up a lot.

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Like when he created the guy on the left, for instance

Now, saying that all Jason Collins did was “admit he likes dudes” is just willful ignorance. Being comfortable and open about being gay is still a struggle for millions of people. For a modern professional athlete to come out publicly is a monumental event, especially considering that Jason Collins has spent his entire adult life submerged in the hyper-masculine and heterosexual culture of professional sports. It doesn’t matter that Collins is a journeyman with minimal stats over his unremarkable career. It doesn’t matter that what Collins is doing isn’t close to what Jackie Robinson did (Collins will see some backlash, but it wont even be 1/10th of what Robinson went through). The facts are that there have been thousands and thousands of “Big 4” professional athletes over the years and Collins is the only one to ever come out while still an active player. No matter how you slice it, its still a tremendously significant step forward for the gay community as they continue to strive for equal rights and status in our society. Like it or not, Collins did become a hero for millions of people this week.

And no, Derp, you don’t need to “make a public announcement that you are straight”. When straight and gay people have equal rights, then you can complain that gay activism receives to much attention. As it currently stands, you poor persecuted straight Christians are afforded the basic human right to marry in our country. Being straight doesn’t carry some kind of unfounded stigma of inferiority. Straight kids aren’t bullied to the point of suicide strictly because they are straight.

It doesn’t really matter that you don’t like Jason Collins coming out, Derp. It doesn’t matter that you don’t like the media (or the majority of the public’s) reaction to it. It doesn’t matter whether you think this is a big deal or not. This was a momentous event for a ton of people in this country; a big crack in the slowly crumbling wall of sexual intolerance. You can choose to acknowledge this or not, but your indifference will not change how millions of other people feel about it. Finally, whether you like it or not, I’d advise you to stop complaining, creating illogical false equivalencies and just generally protesting that a group of people are getting closer towards acquiring the basic equality and rights they deserve. It might make you sound like less of an intolerant bigot.

It’s OK to Still Dislike LeBron James.

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I can’t believe I have to write this column, but here we are.

It’s almost been three full NBA seasons since LeBron James took a massive dump on the hearts of an entire fanbase on national tv his talents to South Beach. During that time, LeBron has fulfilled any sportswriters dream narrative to a “T”. He has fallen, risen, fallen hard (2011 Finals) and then rose to the challenge, taking his game to the next level on the way to his first championship. Say what you will about his decision to team up with two other Superstars, Lebron earned the hell out of that championship. He played basketball at a level we haven’t seen since MJ’s 90’s peak from Game 6 against the Celtics on. He won.

Now, all of a sudden, the tables have been turned. People who not so long ago considered LeBron to be an immature punk now find him to be one of the most likeable guys in the entire league. If I had a nickel every time I heard or read some variation of “If you hate LeBron, you hate basketball”, well, I’d have quite a few nickels. Probably enough to buy a (and by a, I mean several) Cooler Ranch Doritos Taco when they come out on Thursday. That’s right, Cooler Ranch Doritos Tacos. GET EXCITED.

This reasoning is, of course, ridiculous. It’s perfectly acceptable to dislike someone while begrudgingly admitting their excellence at something. Michael Jordan, by most accounts, was and still is a world-class dickhead. He is also the greatest basketball player of all time. Those two facts are completely separate from one another; Jordan’s athletic greatness is not diminished in anyway by the fact that he was a notoriously poor tipper despite making over $30 million a year from Nike alone. He could hate puppies, drive 50 in the passing lane and think Creed are rad; it wouldn’t change how good he was at basketball.

By the way, for all the LeBron fanboys who think LeBron is establishing himself as Jordan’s equal: yes, Jordan and LeBron both broke through at similar ages and career arcs (individual brilliance slowly translating to more and more success in the standings) to win their first championships. For Jordan, however, it was realistically the first of six consecutive championships, as Jordan never played a full season without winning a Larry O’Brien trophy from 1991 to 1998. Jordan also has significantly more  scoring titles and MVPs than Bron. A LOT has to go right just for LeBron to have a chance at matching Jordan, and much of it might be out of his control (Dwayne Wade’s aging, legitimate luxury tax concerns, Durant nipping at his heels). Let’s calm down and remember how unprecedented Jordan’s 1990’s were before we prematurely hold a coronation LeBron as his equal.

Our culture of sports (and our culture in general) tends to heavily weigh the highest levels of success. Great athletes that, for whatever reason, fail to win a championship in their career are inevitably believed to have a tarnished legacy. It doesn’t matter that Charles Barkley was just as good and instrumental in Phoenix’s 1993 playoff run as Dirk Norwitzki for Dallas in 2011. Dirk’s team got it done, eliminating every last criticism of his resume, while Charles still hears the occasional “Who cares what he says? Dude never won anything” in response to his latest outrageous statement on Inside the NBA.

The reverse of this effect is certainly real as well. Peyton Manning spent a decent chunk of his career building up a well-deserved reputation as a playoff choker. Sure, he would have the occasional “Peyton game” against an overmatched opponent like Denver or Kansas City to pad his stats, but he inexplicably also shit the proverbial bed way more than anyone as talented as Peyton Manning should. This “NOT CLUTCH” blemish on Peyton’s legacy was largely dropped after Manning’s Colts won it all in 2007.

Of course, Manning-defenders conveniently left out that 2007 was statistically Manning’s worst extended playoff run. Manning played like absolute dogshit for two and a half games. Despite throwing 1 touchdown and six interceptions during that span, he was carried to the AFC championship game by a surprise run by their much maligned Bob-Sanders-fueled defense. Normal Manning returned for one half to make a comeback against New England, but then had a decidedly ho-hum game as the Colts running game largely carried them to a win against one of the worst Super Bowl teams in recent memory. Manning’s 81.8 QB rating from that game is in the same ballpark as Josh Freeman, Christian Ponder and Ryan Fitzpatrick this past season. If Manning is better than Marino, it isn’t because he drew Rex freakin Grossman as an opposing QB in the biggest game of his career.

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Plus, Manning’s like, really ugly

For whatever reason, people bury their heads in the sand to any form of logic when championships are involved. Like Manning, LeBron winning a ring knocked a King-Kong sized monkey off his back. Unlike Manning, LeBron deserved the bump to his legacy as a player; he clearly earned his championship MVP 10 times more than Manning. However, why does this erase nine years of him being a total dickweed?

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LeBron has “The Chosen One” tattooed on his back. He reportedly once turned down a high schooler in a wheelchair at a Playboy Mansion function. He made fun of Dirk Nowitzki for having a cold. He still laughs incredulously at the refs whenever they have the audacity to call a foul on him. He infamously said that the majority of the then anti-LeBron public were pathetic normal people with pathetic normal-people problems. He once had the humility to suggest replacing his teammates with clones of himself. Of course, said clones would be programmed to flop like Vlade should anyone touch “the Chosen One”.

Then, there’s the whole issue of LeBron’s free agency, where the television special was merely the cherry on top of the douchebag sundae. LeBron turned his free agency into an unprecedented circus of ego-stroking and coddling with each team making elaborate presentations designed to show LeBron just how far backwards they would bend to cater to his every whim. It’s a shame that Cleveland lost, seeing as they had already decisively proven that they would let LeBron and his entourage of yes-men walk all over them if it increased their chances of keeping the superstar. According to Shaq, the coaching staff was basically afraid to reprimand LeBron for anything, even something as simple as getting back on defense.

He followed this up by throwing a championship rally before playing a single game in a Miami jersey. Remember this? I haven’t forgotten.

What a bunch of pricks. Sweet biceps flex, Bosh.

Has LeBron been less of a cock since winning his ring? A little bit. LeBron did not handle the tidal wave of negativity following the decision well. He has always been a guy who desires to be loved by all, to the extent where he has been mocked at times for about being oversensitive and over-manipulative of his image (seriously, the North Korea-style confiscation of the tapes of that college dude dunking on him was pretty pathetic). Now that the pressure is off a little and his coverage is positive again, LeBron certainly seems to feel more comfortable in his own skin. He is for the most part having fun and playing ball out there now. He hasn’t done anything overwhelmingly douchey in…almost a full year! Good for you, LeBron!

Does that change the fact that he has an ego the size of a small planet? Does it change the fact that he reportedly refers to himself in anonymous text messages as “King James”? Does it change the fact that the allegations of him being overly concerned with his image are perfectly confirmed by that “Look at me being normal fun-loving guy! I can laugh at myself! I’m just clowning around at a small local barbershop! Aren’t I relatable?!?” ad for Samsung? Does it change the fact that teaming up with a future =Hall of Famer and another All Star, all in their primes (2 future Hall of Famer’s if you count Chris Bosh’s opinion) was still kind of a bitch move? No, it doesn’t.

Now that LeBron is finally winning the big games, every good quality he craftily displays most be over-exagerated tenfold. Yes, it was kinda cool that he got so excited for the fan that made the half court shot. No, it doesn’t make him some saint. LeBron has always had that fun-loving, goofy personality. Before winning a ring, it got him criticized that he didn’t have a killer instinct, wasn’t as serious as Kobe or MJ, or just was a bad and overeager dancer. Now, it’s a sign of the exuberance with which he displays his brilliance. Barf.

My god. I don’t care that he’s a great basketball player. I’ve disliked him, for all the reason’s mentioned above, for much of his career. Guess what, he was pretty damn good at basketball then too. The fact that he’s gotten slightly better at basketball earns him more respect as basketball player. It shouldn’t lead me to make a sudden 180 on my take on the person himself. I shouldn’t have some moral obligation to root for the guy just because he’s good at his sport.

LeBron the basketball player deserves respect. He deserves credit. He doesn’t deserve my undying and unquestioning personal support, particularly when he has such an established reputation for being a piece of entitled shit.

Many talk of people as being “bandwagon” LeBron haters. The way I see it, there are far more bandwagon LeBron lovers these days. It’s not enough to just say he’s playing great basketball. We have to like him too. If you don’t like LeBron, there’s supposedly something wrong with you.

Fuck off. I liken it to my opinion of Kobe, another guy I think is both a great player and a total asshole. Watching Kobe play, I see him make several plays a game that make me shake my head and begrudgingly say “He’s good, dammit” to myself because there’s no other way to react to it. That’s the same treatment LeBron gets from me. “He’s good, dammit.”

Shouldn’t that be enough?