Player says he’s gay, draws mixed reaction

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Player says he’s gay, draws mixed reaction

NEW YORK - Veteran basketball player Jason Collins basked in support and declared himself as happy as he had ever been on Tuesday, but not everyone was pleased about his becoming the first openly gay player in North America’s four major professional sports leagues.

Collins revealed he was gay on Monday in a Sports Illustrated article, a reluctant pioneer who broke one of the last barriers of American sport.

He was given the presidential seal of approval when Barack Obama personally called to congratulate him, and also received overwhelming support from other professional athletes and celebrities from the entertainment world.

Not everyone was applauding Collins, a center who played last season with the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards. While most comments seemed positive, there were also critics.

Hines Ward, a former wide receiver in the National Football League (NFL), said the sport wouldn’t embrace homosexuality.

“I don’t think football is ready,” said Hines, now a television analyst with NBC. “There are too many guys in the locker room and, you know, guys play around too much.”

Ward was not the first, nor likely the last, from the testosterone-fueled world of American football to express discomfort.

Sportswriter Chris Broussard, speaking on ESPN television, grouped homosexual acts with adultery and premarital sex, saying he believed this was “walking in open rebellion to God.”

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