Derrick Gordon was only looking for a few good hearts when he told the world that he’s gay.
He didn’t have to rock the sports world in the way that Jason Collins did, because Collins already did. Gordon didn’t have to shake up college athletics the way Michael Sam did, because Sam already did.
For those two reasons, it would only seem that Gordon’s announcement shouldn’t be big news at all. The trail has already been blazed.
Yet, somehow, Gordon’s announcement still caught my eye.
It’s not because the Massachusetts guard is the first NCAA Division I men’s basketball player to publicly come out, which is what ESPN wanted viewers to take away from the story.
Partly, it was because the story led off the 9 a.m. hour of “SportsCenter,” the morning after a women’s basketball team finished 40-0 and completed a national championship double with the men’s squad.
That’s breaking news for you.
More seriously, as a Christian (yes, I’m coming right out to say that), what strikes me is a trend that athletes whose talents in the grand scheme of college and professional sports’ popularity otherwise would be revealed through a much smaller lens have something so important to say, my view from a certain perspective is challenged.
But those same beliefs and values on which I firmly stand also give me what I think is the normalcy to respect others, no matter what, in an era when normalcy is redefined.
Giving someone heck for coming out or threatening to cast the first stone won’t do any good. But having a good heart about the matter, regardless of religion or lack thereof, will.
Good teammates have good hearts. So do good coaches and good fans. And, yes, even good journalists.
That’s all Gordon was looking for when he announced he’s gay. Judging from his “SportsCenter” interview, it looks like he found them.
His coach, Derek Kellogg — a John Calipari disciple — even broke the ice for Gordon when telling his fellow Minutemen, according to Gordon’s account on an ESPN.com video.
“He said we should start it off funny,” Gordon said of Kellogg. “‘First of all, I just want to let you all know that I’m gay.’ Everyone looked at him surprised. Soon as I said it, they weren’t at all surprised. They were more like, ‘about time you admit it.’”
Gordon reported the teammates showed support for him. “We’re here for you. It doesn’t change a thing,” he said the Minutemen relayed to him.
Looking at him carefully in his interview, I wouldn’t have guessed that Gordon is gay, nor does it matter. But we all may agree that he now will be seen in the same manner as Collins and Sam.
If you have a good heart, that will only be as athletes who encouraged others, gay or straight, Christian or not, to not shield their true being from anyone. That’s all that matters.
I.C. Murrell is the sports editor of The Commercial. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.