College Football All-American Comes Out To Public
By Nick Zelano
BU News Service
SEC Defensive Player of the Year Michael Sam announced his orientation before the biggest job interview he will likely ever have in his life. On Sunday, an interview with ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” was released where Sam tells viewers that he is coming out to the public. The All-American defensive lineman from Missouri has already declared for the NFL draft in April and has his hopes on a bright NFL career ahead of him.
By doing so on national television, Sam has not only come out as the first professional football player to be gay but is also opening himself up to more scrutiny, over-analyzing and critiquing than any other prospect for the NFL draft ever. Scouts and teams will now over-analyze his game, over-criticize faults and question his skills on the field more than they will any other prospect simply because of the fact that he is gay. Though being gay has nothing to do with his NFL skills, teams will be hesitant at first to draft him.
Had he waited until after he was drafted he would have been analyzed just as every other player was, and that is how he should be analyzed. Coming out before he was drafted shows his courage, strong will and determination to truly make it to the NFL as the first openly gay player. It is statistically impossible that there are no other gay players in the NFL right now, let alone past players of the game. The reality is simply that Michael Sam is the first open player to be associated with the NFL, but he has yet to even step foot on a field.
NBA player Jason Collins was the first ever active player in the four major American professional sports leagues to come out as a homosexual when he announced he was gay in April of 2013. As courageous and strong he was in doing so, Sam is even stronger. Though it takes guts to be the first ever to announce it, Collins is already 35 and in 2013, he was nearing the end of his active career in the NBA. Sam is merely a college graduate and just beginning his career. While not even in the NFL yet and actively trying to pursue his dream, he decided to be honest first. He decided to break ceilings that had never been touched before. Though probably inspired by Collins I believe that Michael Sam is opening doors and walking a path that is even more inspirational. He will become the first openly gay man to ever be drafted to a professional sport and play his entire career as an open homosexual.
This action shows his self-confidence and leads the way for younger, homosexual athletes. It tells them that their sexual preference does not define them but instead their skill set and talents will be the only thing they are judged on while on the playing field. Sam may be overlooked by some teams but once he does step foot on a field, and he will, it will be a victory for all professional sports and in the NFL in particular. The fact of the matter is that it is 2014 and the “man” stereotype for athletes needs to catch up with the times. Michael Sam is a leader and will one day be thought of in the likes of a Jackie Robinson and how he changed professional sports forever. The accomplishments he achieves once playing in the NFL will definitely be just as newsworthy as his interview was yesterday. However, I look forward to the day when a gay athlete can be open with the public and being drafted is a commonality, not breaking news.
I read something on Twitter last night with somebody saying that he hoped that Michael Sam gets drafted even though he’s announced he’s a homosexual. It’s sad that this thought has to go through somebody’s mind. Though well-intentioned, I believe that one has nothing to do with the other. Being a homosexual has nothing to do with playing in the NFL; or even playing any sport for that matter. It is simply how they live their life off the field and in their own home.
When a very talented athlete has personal issues with crime, drugs, or violence it is very rarely that fans bring these issues up. It is even lower that fans would think to voice their opinions saying that these players deserve to get drafted. It isn’t even an issue and the athletes get drafted without a hesitation. But now, when a very good football player comes out as being gay, it is suddenly up for a discussion on whether or not he should get drafted. Hundreds of young players especially in the NFL have been convicted of crimes, been to jail and live awful lives off of the field. However it is not up for discussion if they deserve to be playing on the field because their off field actions don’t seem to matter. However when a gay player comes out America has to hope and wish that he gets drafted purely based on his merit as a football player and not as his life style. Am I the only one that doesn’t seem to understand that logic?
In reality there are hundreds of athletes in American sports who cheat on their wives, take drugs, cheat in their sports and are awful human beings yet glorified on the field because of their skill set, Michael Sam is a wonderful All-American athlete, who just so happens to be gay which has nothing to do with him being an athlete or in the NFL yet that is how he is being defined by some. Though he is courageous for what he is done I don’t see a connection to sports and there shouldn’t be when we have other athletes out there who abuse their fame, abuse their trust and are still thought of as sport icons and heroes.
I hope fans realize that the player on the field does not always reflect the person off it. Michael Sam is an All-American football player from Missouri and is also an All-American person and deserves to have a great NFL career ahead of him. Good luck to Michael and his future career.