Enivable courage: the NFL’s first gay footballer

Share This Article
michael-sam

Those of you who followed my Rainbow Lace’s updates know homosexuality in football is an issue that needs addressing, immediately. So when Missouri’s top American football player, Michael Sam, came out as gay this week, I knew I’d feel strongly on the subject.

Narrow-minded

Sam’s news means he could be the first openly gay football player to play in the NFL. If they draft him. According to NFL’s executives and coaches, his coming-out was a “risky move” to make pre-draft, despite him being the third or fifth top pick for the league. An NFL player personnel assistant said “I don’t think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet…at this point in time it’s still a man’s-man game…It’d chemically imbalance an NFL locker room and meeting room.” (According to Sports Illustrated)

Really? It wasn’t so long ago the same view would have been said about a black player wanting to play sports, and that’s all okay now, but being gay is not? And not only this, but being gay means you’re not a “real” man? It’s a worrying, narrowed view of looking at the development of sport today, and by the NFL’s reaction, this view is also harmful to sport players and its fans everywhere.

Familiar story

But the U.S is not alone in its accepting of homosexuality in sport. If you’ve read my blogs on the matter before, you’ll be all too aware of the both Justin Fashanu and Robbie Rogers’ worries regarding the acceptance of being gay within the game. Only these two players have come-out during their careers and to detrimental affect. It wasn’t until retirement that Thomas Hitzlsperger announced his sexuality – another poignant reminder of sexuality much closer to home

So it doesn’t surprise me that the NFL have reacted the way they have to Sam’s announcement, however it does surprise me knowing the type of players the sport industry, including its fans are willing to accept:

  • Cheating and performance drug users
  • Cheating partners and husbands
  • Aggressive players prone to getting arrested for being irrational
  • Players who take drugs, abuse alcohol…you name it!

But a gay player isn’t accepted? What has being homosexual got to do with how he performs? He’s still the best defensive college player of the last year, being gay doesn’t change that at all. Fans seem to be on the same standing and most are backing him 100% and that speaks volume – Sam’s will treasure this. Dale Hansen, a sportscaster from Texas, gives a great speech on the news and sport needs more people like this to stand up for gay rights.

Courageous

There are of course, viewpoints on a similar path to that of the NFL: that footy is a man’s-man game. I can see where the coaches are coming from, that the locker room is a sacred place easily upset, and an openly gay player may create that upset, but at the same time, that’s life – there’s a ton of stuff that could cause upset in that environment every week – I should know.

My fingers are crossed for Michael Sam, I think what he’s done takes serious guts, I love that he’s timed it before the draft, like he’s stood up and making a serious point. I hope we see a big NFL stand up alongside him and that this will make other homosexual players confident enough to come out in the future.

 

Share This Article
6 comments
alexgreco94
alexgreco94

That speech given by Dale Hansen is so uplifting, and really hits home the reality of what is a discriminatory and hypocritical culture in most Male professional sports today.

Some of previous comments have not grasped the point of this at all. It doesn't matter if Michael Sam is 1st, 3rd, 5th, 25th round pick in the NFL draft. What matters is the message here that gay men are still not accepted within the macho man sports arena.

This needs to change. People are ending their lives over the fear of their sexuality not beig accepted by their friends, families, colleagues, etc. High-profile sport can go a long way to breaking down these barriers, and showing people that being gay isn't a bad thing. The rainbow laces was a positive step, and long may similar initiatives continue.

TomLane
TomLane

This is a right load of crap Joey, sorry. He isn't expected to be a top pick in the draft, and that quote you have very nicely picked out for you to back up your bogus point is an absolute minority view held in NFL and you would know if you have done your research.


Fans are accepting him. Where have you got the idea that they're not? It's a VERY small minority saying the ignorant stuff yet you've chosen to focus on that and not acknowledge the majority are in full support of Michael Sam.

goodwin83
goodwin83

Just a bit of info to help He isnt expected to go high in the draft. Was a mid to late rd pick at best with avg skills and physical ability. Has good intangebiles as a leader and quick at picking things up which should help him in NFL.  So though he won DPOY at Missouri in the NFL as an NFL prospect he is maybe 4th best defensive player on the team. As for timing in his interview when he came across very well he said was to get it all out of the way so no distractions when takes the field but cynics point out could be a ploy that if he isnt drafted people will raise the issue of him being gay as a reason for not being drafted. I think he will get a shot somehwere and as many have pointed out being gay shouldnt even be an issue in todays world but sadly it is - as has been proven by some of the comments by NFL players and executives this past week. 

KevinCallaghan
KevinCallaghan

Its sad when this sorta thing even makes a story , it should be all about how good you are on the pitch/field ... living for a day when it doesn't matter !

Mundungus
Mundungus

I agree, good points.  I wonder if its both an equally risky and clever move to come out pre draft as it gives an nfl franchise the opportunity to draft 1) a very good football player. But equally 2) be shown to be forward thinking, modern and tolerant franchise in a league of apparently few. The exposure to the GM and head coach and franchise would be incredible. It could also make him more draftable in a way as he adds to his pre draft CV what American football experts refer to as another 'intangible'. Good article though and a good read so many thanks,Joey. It seems that this kind of thing is increasing daily which is great news because the sooner it isn't news that somebody has come out the better.

JosHarvey
JosHarvey

Totally agree joey great read