12-year NBA veteran and current free agent Jason Collins altered the sports landscape on Monday with his courageous announcement that he is gay. As the first player in one of the four major sports to do so (though we seem to forget that Martina Navratilova did so when it was a lot less acceptable), Collins put himself in the middle of one of the most important stories of the last few years, regardless of subject. And the athletic community, for the most part, has been supportive -- realizing that it's a new era, or understanding that their true feelings about the subject would just backfire on them at this point.
Then, there was the twitter reaction of current Miami Dolphins and former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Mike Wallace, via Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post:
??? RT @wallace17_dakid: All these beautiful women in the world and guys wanna mess with other guys SMH...
— Ben Volin (@BenVolinPBP) April 29, 2013
We had to get the tweet from Volin, because Wallace wisely either deleted it, or it was made clear to him that his response was not going to go over too well.
The Dolphins quickly responded with a statement.
“Mike Wallace has apologized for his comments, and we have addressed the matter with him. Mike’s comments do not reflect the views of the Miami Dolphins. We believe in a culture of inclusiveness and respect, and any statements to the contrary are in no way acceptable to our organization.
“We will address the entire team about our policy of inclusion and make sure they all understand the importance of respecting individual choices.”
Wallace later tried to engage in a bit of damage control, which reflected a more interesting -- and probably fairly common -- point of view in the NFL community.
It should be mentioned that several NFL stars, both current and retired, took to social media to congratulate Collins for what he's done. These guys understand the long-term view when it comes to what tolerance can do.
Should Wallace be castigated for his views? I'm not sure about that; I would imagine that a lot of people in and out of sports think this way -- they don't have a lot of gay friends (at least that they know about), and they've subsequently failed to understand that people think and do things in different ways. Maybe Wallace should be educated. Maybe those who are offended by his views, and similar views, should endeavor to point these things out to Wallace in ways that he will understand. It would seem to be an easy thing to do in a city with a thriving LGBT community ... especially since Wallace is a member of a team whose real-life animal mascot engages in homosexuality.
If Mike Wallace wants to be a true Dolphin, he's got a few things to figure out. And as a human being, the sooner, the better.