Jason Collins is a hero. Jason Collins is a pioneer. Jason Collins is a distraction.
“The story” since Jason Collins came out of the closet 10 months ago has been any combination of the above. But one thing was perfectly clear to the media covering the story: professional sports aren’t ready for a gay teammate.
And then on Sunday, the Brooklyn Nets signed Collins to a 10-day contract.
Because Jason Collins is a basketball player.
Sometimes “the story” is only the story because the media wants it to be. But taking control of the message – or the interview – can shift “the story” to something entirely different.
At his introductory press conference, media questioned the affect of Collins’ sexuality on the team dynamic. “The story” had been written – just looking for a quote. But a funny thing happened…
Jason Collins: “I need to be a solid basketball player. It’s about focusing on basketball and not history or anything along those lines.”
Coach Jason Kidd: “Win ballgames. That’s what it’s all about.”
Now, just a few days after Collins was signed, the conversation has shifted from his sexuality to his ability to help the Nets win basketball games. No riots on the court, no mutiny in the locker room.
As it turned out, “the story” wasn’t a story at all.
It’s something we see all the time — whether with the media, social communities or consumers at large, you’ve got to participate if you want to help shape the story.