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Pardon me if this comes off as insensitive, but I really don't care that Jason Collins is gay any more than I care that my next-door neighbor is not. I understand that his decision to make his sexual preference public was important. At least that's what everybody keeps telling us. It just wasn't important to me.

In fact, it never was.

And it never will be.

Isn't that how it should be?

Collins became the first active professional athlete to stand up and acknowledge he was gay, a courageous decision if only because he knew it would come at a price. It takes a certain person with a certain backbone to open himself to criticism for the sake of opening doors for others to follow him.

I get it.

In a perfect world, an athlete wouldn't feel the need to keep a secret for all these years, to take a deep breath before sitting down with Sports Illustrated and discussing his sexual preference. In a perfect world, whether it was the First Lady or the last man on the bench, people wouldn't feel the need to line up to show their support.

In a perfect world, the words, “I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay,” wouldn't be any more startling than me saying, “I'm a 45-year-old columnist, I'm white, and I own a house” because, in a perfect world, nobody would care.

Don't get me wrong. I understand the reasons why Collins' decision evolved into a major announcement. It was a big step for him. It was a bigger step for the gay community, which for years has needed a professional male athlete to break down barriers that existed no matter how many other celebrities had jumped over them.

Frankly, it was about time. It's 2013, for heaven's sake. Our society likes to believe it took a major step Monday by rallying behind Collins, but it many ways it revealed just how much it lagged behind in the first place. Collins deserves credit for taking a leap into the unknown, no question, but it's sad it took so long.

Anyone who believed, in a world in which an estimated 8 percent of males were gay, that 100 percent of male athletes were not was out of touch with reality. Tell me, who has been living in a closet? Martina Navratilova has been public about her sexuality for years, but for reasons unknown we needed a man to do the same.

Really, who cares?

And why do they care?

The saddest part is that Collins lived a lie for 34 years because he felt our culture gave him no other choice. He didn't even have the confidence to come forward to his twin brother until last year. He worried how he would be perceived by his closest friends and family, let alone the public.

Thankfully, he had the strength needed to proudly stand up and take his story public regardless of the reaction. It came with an initial shock, the way news often does, but everything will settle down. Collins took an important step, and you can only hope he helped others who struggled through similar experiences before finding peace.

I'm looking forward to a time in which the sexual preference of an athlete is no more important than his favorite musician or favorite food. I'm looking forward to a time when it's not a story. That's when you'll know we've made real progress.

No presidential veto

Sabres President Ted Black inadvertently invited more criticism to be directed toward owner Terry Pegula, the very man he had been trying to protect, on Monday.

For the past two-plus years, Black led people to believe that he had a say in GM Darcy Regier being retained after years of failure. He also accepted responsibility for the decision to give Regier a contract extension in 2012. In fact, as both confirmed during their sloppy season-ending news conference, they have equal power.

Black may be the president, but he apparently has little or no voice when it comes to hockey-related matters. Basically, don't blame him for not holding Regier accountable. Blame ownership.

As for the 4 percent hike on tickets, revealed hours before Fan Appreciation Night, it's the same percentage the Sabres planned to credit their customers toward next season for holding their money during the lockout. Rather than the fans getting the 4 percent “discount” they expected, the Sabres will keep the money and charge them the same amount as last year.

Speaking of poor timing, Black suggested that owners don't usually participate in season-ending news conferences. He wondered if Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which owns The Buffalo News, would do the same. In fact, the Oracle of Omaha plans to meet with shareholders for five hours Saturday.

Jones can go home

Seth Jones couldn't have asked for a better situation than seeing the Avalanche win the NHL draft lottery. The defenseman, considered by many to be the top prospect in the upcoming NHL draft, began playing in Denver when his father, Popeye, was playing for the Nuggets. Popeye Jones was friends with Joe Sakic.

It has been a memorable year for Jones, who in January won the gold medal in the World Junior Championships while playing for the United States. He's hoping for a Memorial Cup title while playing for the Portland Winterhawks. They reached the WHL finals and were awaiting the Calgary Hitmen or Edmonton Oil Kings.

Jones appears destined for Colorado.

“Nothing is set in stone,” he said on NHL Network. “I'm very appreciative and honored. This experience has been amazing, so far.”

A's-Angels by the numbers

Here are some facts and figures from Oakland's 10-8 victory over the L.A. Angels in the 19-inning marathon that took 6 hours:

• Brandon Moss struck out four times and left four men on base, but he also had three hits, three RBIs and three runs scored, including his walk-off homer. Oakland left 30 men on base in the game. Pinch hitter Chris Young finished 2 for 4 and played two positions, center field and right field, all after the eighth inning.

Albert Pujols was in a 3-for-31 slump and had no homers in 74 at-bats before going 4-for-8 with two homers with three RBIs and three runs scored. Rookie of the year Mike Trout and former MVP Josh Hamilton were a combined 1 for 16 and had nine LOBs. Trout had the lone hit between them and left five men on base.

Sixteen pitchers from the two teams combined for 589 pitches in the game, including 401 pitches from the 14 relievers.

Stats Inc.

90,000 – Twitter accounts following Jason Collins on Tuesday afternoon after acknowledging he was gay.

3,300 – Twitter followers for Collins before going public about his sexual preference.

30 – Points per game scored by Golden State guard Stephen Curry in three straight wins over Denver after he was held to 19 in a series-opening loss.

Quick Hits

• With the Jets releasing him, the Jaguars ignoring him and the CFL Montreal Alouettes telling him he can compete for the backup job, Tim Tebow appears to be out of options as a starting quarterback. You can only hope that he someday realizes he could make a good living if he stopped resisting and agreed to learn how to play tight end.

• J.R. Smith has been terrific for the Knicks this season, but it seemed a matter of time before he lived up to his reputation as a problem child. Sure enough, he was tossed from Game Three and suspended for Game Four against the Celtics after throwing an elbow to the chin of Jason Terry.

• R.A. Dickey was 15-3 in 24 starts with the Mets last season before suffering his fourth loss en route to a 20-6 record and the Cy Young Award. He fell to 2-4 in six starts after the Yankees beat him in his sixth start for the Blue Jays this season. He has a 4.50 ERA, his highest since he was a middle reliever with the Twins in '09.

email: bgleason@buffnews.com