Imagining Billie Jean King and Jason Collins' Text Messages
Jason Collins played 11 minutes as a New Jersey Net this week, becoming the first openly gay player to appear in a game in one of the four major Americans sports leagues. What's more, he was, to the surprise of no one, flat-out inundated with well wishes across all channels of communication. Per The New York Times:
"Collins spent Monday, an off day, saying goodbyes to his nephews and nieces and responding to hundreds of supportive calls, emails, text messages, Facebook posts and tweets.
"He said that he was appreciative of the messages he received—particularly a text exchange with Billie Jean King on Monday night—and that the responses, aside from some nastiness on Twitter, had been “overwhelmingly positive.” But he was more than ready to start focusing on building chemistry with his new teammates."
King is no stranger herself to both stinging criticism and rapt applause over the years, insofar as her sexuality and her reappropriation of its presence in her life for the powers of positive change are concerned. Simply put, she's a doer. And it could be said that she likes to talk, too, as shown in the Spin's December 2013 interview with her in Chicago.
Let's rise above all the bluster in the non-debate about who should be allowed to play pro sports—we're not going near this week's absurd initiative by one lobbyist to ban gay players from the NFL—and imagine what the aforementioned text messages between King and Collins contained.
Billie Jean King: Jason, hello. It's Billie Jean. Kudos on your success yesterday, man!
Jason Collins: Thank you. It's wonderful to hear from a pioneer such as yourself. Just trying to hold court as deftly as you did in the day.
BJK: In the day? I'm 70 years young, fella. You've got growing up to do. But I'll share with you now one cliché—I mean, one impregnable fact—that has served me well over time, that has been shared and retweeted the world over by my dutiful darling fans in the tennis and LGBT sectors. Are you ready for it?
JC: You have the floor, my lady.
BJK: It's this: The pressure is a privilege. [pause] ... Did I just blow your mind?
JC: I'm speechless, Billie Jean. That's fantastic. How do you do it?
BJK: I'm getting on in years, kid. I've had a lot of practice. Now, one more thing, for you to relay to your coach, Jason Kidd.
JC: Yes, ma'am?
BJK: Tell him that spill-water-on-the-court-to-force-timeout-when-he-has-none-left gambit, that was the shoddiest sportsmanship I've seen from a coach since, well, since ...
JC: But there are no timeouts in tennis. I know, 'cause I'm a big fan—one who likes to heckle Bob and Mike Bryan in the heat of battle on occasion. You yourself were never coached in the midst of a game, of a match, were you?
BJK: Nooo. Never. Let's get that straight. And don't not get me started on the idea of coaching mid-match in tennis. This is about you, my friend ...
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