Thursday, May 19 was a typical day for most people. However, for sportscaster Jared Max, his world would be changed forever—by his own doing.
That morning, Max announced on his ESPN 1050/WEPN early morning show that he was gay.
“I had to do this for myself,” Max admits. “I’m 37 now [at] what point do I say, ‘This is the one life we know we’re going to have, what the hell am I keeping quiet for? Why am I doing this to myself?”
Max, who came out to his mother when he was 21, was ready to make peace on a larger scale thanks to his cats.
“I remember telling my cat Mush the night before, ‘I think something might happen tomorrow.’”
By the next morning, Max still uncertain told his other cat, “Things might be a little different when I come home.”
As he arrived at the station, the potential decision obviously weighed heavily on his mind. Max began to work on scripts for his show, starting with a piece on his being gay. He had it saved for the program’s end.
“It wasn’t until 10, 15, 20, 30 seconds before that I knew, ‘Ok, I’m doing it,’” Max admits.
Max, well known to commuters for his morning drive sports reports on WCBS 880 for more than a decade, joined 1050 on March 30.
“It’s just that great fear that I wouldn’t be able to be myself,” Max says. “And for the first nine days on the air, I really wasn’t myself.”
Once he told his audience, Max admits that his confidence was back.
“Then on Friday, I went in and for the first time I had felt I had the exact same swagger back that I had while I was at CBS.”
Part of the reason Max jumped ship to ESPN was to host his own 5 a.m. show, before handling local updates on The Mike and Mike Show. That helped to suppress the veteran sports anchor from coming out at 880.
“I did two-minute sportscasts and where was I going to squeeze it in,” Max says.
But Max also had timing on his side. In recent weeks, a couple of high-profile sports figures said they were gay. Rick Welts, the Phoenix Suns president and CEO, became the first team sports exec to come out. Former Villanova basketball standout Will Sheridan also told the world about his sexuality. In addition, CNN anchor Don Lemon joined the growing list of notable personalities finding comfort in their own skin.
Max, who has been single since November 2010, says being in a relationship isn’t easy—straight or gay—when you’re getting up for work at 1 a.m.
Now, as Max makes his way publicly through the second phase of his career, he is overwhelmed by the positive feedback, especially by his new employer.
“They’ve just been absolutely phenomenal,” Max says. “I got a phone call on Friday afternoon from George Bodenheimer, the president of ESPN, calling to offer his support, congratulations, and good luck.”
With so many text messages and emails from other well-wishers, Max knew almost instantly he made the right decision.
“This has taken off in a way that I never knew could be this way,” Max says. “I felt things later that day after coming out [that] I never knew I would feel. Life is good… I have such an incredible wealth of friends and love and support and knowledge. I feel like one of the richest men in the world.”