Last Monday, Washington Wizards player Jason Collins announced in a Sports Illustrated article that he was gay.  Now, let me be clear in saying, I am in no way attacking his sexual preference—that is his business, not mine. What I am attacking is the reaction of those around him, including the reaction of President Obama.  This is not an article about anyone’s sexual preferences, it however is an article about the very skewed views of our President and many in our country.

After the announcement, President Obama personally called Collins congratulating him on the courage his announcement took.

To me, to be courageous means to stand up in the face of danger, to show bravery and valor, to show strength in times of pain—that is what it means to be a hero.  Evidently, to President Obama, just about any act validates the status of hero.

True courage is an act of bravery in the face of adversity—something few individuals show.  Courage is what makes heroines stand out for their acts of service.

If you look up the definition of a “hero” in Merriam-Webster dictionary, one of the definitions you might see is “an object of extreme admiration and devotion.”

A heroine’s actions are a result of selfless love.  Heroes risk their lives by putting others first.

While the word hero can carry different meanings for different people, there is no denying that as a nation, Americans share several common hero figures:

The men and women who risk their lives every day in the armed forces.

The first responders to terroristic attacks like 9/11 or the Boston Marathon bombing.

Individuals who run into the smoke, without regard to themselves, at terrible disasters such as the West, Texas fertilizer explosion.

These are my ideas of what it means to be a hero.

Jason Collins announcement was not heroic.  If anything, Collins might gain or lose a few fans as a result of the Sports Illustrated article.  Collins didn’t risk his life or celebrity status for selfless reasons—he made a personal announcement that may or may not have personal repercussions. As an aging player, at the end of his NBA career, he really isn’t putting much on the line.

It is truly sad that this story has received countless media impressions.  America has bigger fish to fry than the sexuality of one man.

I know I may ruffle some feathers in asking this, but I truly must.  Has the American definition of hero changed so drastically that we are passing out the label to every average Joe or Jason that walks by?

Let this be a lesson that we need to concentrate on the welfare of our nation and its citizens and not what celebrity figures do or don’t do in their private life.  We need to spend time thanking those who sacrifice for us every day.  We, as a nation, need to spend time thanking true American heroes.


Mary Claire Couch | Belmont | @MaryClaireCouch