Gay ESPN Host Reflects on NBA Player Coming Out
Jared Max almost missed the phone call he'd been waiting for.
The co-host of ESPN Radio's "Maxed Out," was just getting settled for his mid-morning nap when his brother called asking if he'd heard the news.
"At first, I thought he was calling about [Tim] Tebow," Max said. "And I was like, 'I just did a two-hour show, I know about Tebow.'"
But big brother wasn't interested in talking about the Jets cutting anyone, he wanted to talk about Jason Collins.
Collins, a center for the Washington Wizards, revealed he was gay in a Sports Illustrated profile. And Max's family wanted to get their favorite sports guy's take on the historic announcement.
In 2011, during one of his early morning broadcasts, Max shared with his listeners that he was gay. The unscripted moment was a first in the world of sports coverage and Max immediately found himself on the other side of the microphone, getting personal attention from listeners, colleagues and the media.
While he had already come out to family and close friends, Max kept his personal and professional lives separated, until that impromptu leap. And despite his worse fears and a public conversation about how sexual orientation and sports are somehow intertwined, Max didn't fall. His loyal audience was there to catch him.
"Nothing changed with the listeners," he said. "People were supportive, and when they hear it now, they say, 'Jared Max is gay? So what?'"
Which partly explains why Max has been waiting for that phone call, about a professional male athlete coming out. By grappling with his own sexuality, Max learned that no matter how hard he fought it, reality would eventually win. In his mind, it was never a matter of if, but when a high profile player would come out. Collins' announcement proved him right.
"Actually, I want to see 10 players, from various sports, all get together and say, 'We're Gay,' and just make the newsrooms freak out about trying to figure which angle to cover because we just don't want it to matter anymore," he said.
While that kind of coordinated play could still happen, for now, Max is happy to simply call this single announcement, an uncontested win for everyone.