For those individuals who are not sports fans or are living under a rock, if you don’t already know, the first active player in the NBA has disclosed to Sports Illustrated that he is gay.  Jason Collins has shown incredible courage coming out and the comparisons to Jackie Robinson’s breaking the color barrier are already deservedly being made. 


As a human being, I find the story compelling because it is a historical moment.  As a management-side employment attorney, I find the story compelling because of how it is being handled by the NBA and NBA athletes, including Collins’ teammates and former teammates. 


The reaction for the most part has been positive.  NBA commissioner, David Stern, promptly issued a supportive (if not bland) press release.  Tweets were instantly posted supporting Collins.  These tweets have come from some of the biggest names in NBA history such as Isiah Thomas and Shaquille O’Neal: 

?@nba @Jason Collins, the NBA family has always been about acceptance and equality for all. Stand tall you have more supporters than haters. Isiah Thomas

?Character is found in those who lead. I am so proud of my friend, Jason Collins, for showing all of us what leadership looks like. #way2go -Shaquille O’Neal


Some of the reaction has not been positive.   But what has stood out for me in what is rapidly turning into a media circus was one line in yesterday’s Star Ledger article about the announcement: "Bracing for just that, over the past several weeks, two of the leagues — the NBA and NFL — have met with groups that preach tolerance for gay athletes to design educational programs."


The fact that the NBA and the NFL took proactive steps to design training programs to address pressures in the locker room, on the court and field, and on the sidelines is the kind of foresight employers should use when developing harassment policies.