Jason Collins is the first active player in a major American team sport to announce that he is gay. The accolades have already started. NBA Commissioner David Stern stated, "Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue." Kobe Bryant, one of the league's best-known stars, tweeted his support. White House spokesman Jay Carney called Collins "courageous"; Bill Clinton also applauded his announcement. And the Boston Red Sox have invited him to throw out the first pitch at an upcoming game.
According to Bloomberg, Collins's announcement may benefit him financially. A "gay-marketing strategist" claims that the first openly gay team-sport athlete will earn millions in endorsements and speaking engagements. Companies are apparently trying to capture more of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgendered) market and its $800 billion annual buying power. Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, says a gay player on his roster "would be a marketing goldmine for all involved." American Airlines, Macy's, Ikea, and Amazon are among the companies now using gay-themed advertising.
While many businesses and sports leagues are moving in this direction as quickly as they can, what about marketing directed at Christians? Our demographic has an estimated purchasing power of $5.1 trillion a year, more than six times larger than the LGBT market. While the homosexual demographic in America is estimated at 3.8 percent of the population (translating to 11.8 million people), there are 140 million Christian consumers in our country.
Some companies are making faith part of their business. For instance, In-N-Out Burgers prints Bible verses on its paper containers. Weir's Furniture Village in Dallas is closed on Sundays and publishes biblical advertising in our city. And Chick-fil-A is well-known for its stance on Sunday closing and on gay marriage.
I know of a CEO whose Bible sits prominently on his desk, coaches who never miss voluntary chapel services with their players, doctors and nurses who offer to pray with their patients, and political leaders whose faith is both public and sincere. How are you using your public influence for the Kingdom? Please share your thoughts in our comments section.
You cannot measure the eternal significance of present faithfulness. If a player can make headlines for announcing that he's gay, how will we make headlines for Christ?
Jim Denison, Ph.D., is a subject matter expert on cultural and contemporary issues. He founded the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, a nonsectarian "think tank" designed to engage contemporary issues with biblical truth in 2009 and is the author of seven books, including Radical Islam: What You Need to Know. For more information on the Denison Forum, visit www.denisonforum.org. To connect with Dr. Denison in social media, visit www.twitter.com/jimdenison or www.facebook.com/denisonforum.
Publication date: April 30, 2013