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.
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.
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.
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.