This is the 2nd of a two-part post on society and sports. This past weekend has reminded us of how race and sexual orientation are extremely sensitive issues even in 2014. Two very different stories have brought both of these topics to the forefront of the sports consciousness. This second post will deal with sexual orientation through the prism of the Michael Sam announcement. For those of you living in a sports-free bubble the past 3 days, here are some basics of the story.
Michael Sam is an All-American defensive end for the SEC’s Missouri Tigers football team. He was honored as the SEC Defensive Player of the year for this past season in which he completed his eligibility. He is preparing to participate in the NFL Scouting combine later this month in the hopes of reaching his goal of getting drafted by & making a team’s roster this fall. His measurables (height, weight, and speed) are such that he is considered a little small for defensive line and a little stiff & slow for OLB. But his film shows he is quick off the ball and he can rush the passer effectively. Michael Sam is also gay.
Sam’s public announcement this past weekend of his sexual orientation blew up on twitter and lit up the phones on sports talk radio stations across the country. You can watch it here for yourself:
No matter what someone’s opinion on the issues surrounding sexual orientation, this story resonated loudly with almost everyone. How would a locker room respond to him? How much negativity will he face from fans? Will this announcement affect his draft status? These and many more questions were asked over & over but since none of us has a crystal ball, we are left to assumptions or conjecture.
What we do now know is that the coaches, students and administrators involved with the Missouri Tigers football program were told of this by Sam back in August. It is amazing in this social media age that not one of them went public with the information. I have been in a college locker room. It is hard to have 80-100 people to keep anything secret. It speaks to the respect these student athletes had for Michael Sam and for Gary Pinkel that they were ultimately successful on the field. Missouri went on to win their division (SEC East) over perennial power schools such as Florida, South Carolina and Georgia: play the undefeated Auburn Tigers tough in the SEC Championship game and win the Cotton Bowl over the Big 12 runner-up Oklahoma State Cowboys. Michael Sam was an integral part of all this success. His 2013 post season honors attest to that. We also now know that many (how many depends on who you believe) scouts and therefore teams were already aware of Sam’s sexual orientation. The hope for Michael Sam is that the adults he is about to join in the NFL (players, coaches and executives) can show the same respect for him as a player and a person that the people associated with the Missouri program did. Only time will tell.
The first part of this post had no good guys, no heroes and no victims. Part II is full of them. Whatever your opinions regarding sexuality, it must be recognized, that in publicly announcing himself as gay, Michael Sam has shown a great deal of courage to step in the line of fire and face the expected negative barrage from fans and possibly teammates. He also preempted some of that negativity by having an outstanding, award-winning senior season. The men & women running the Missouri football program should be commended for not allowing this situation to negatively impact their preparation. Finally, the student athletes competing for Missouri should be applauded for putting the team above all else whether or not they had a personal opinion inconsistent with their teammate.
The hope here is that the coaches and players on whatever team drafts Michael Sam can exhibit the maturity displayed by Missouri’s student-athletes and judge the young man only in how he works and how his play helps the team win.
Here is the link for the 1st installment of this post: http://yourdailycowboysfootballfix.com/ncaa/marcus-smart-michael-sam-and-what-we-should-le/
Editors Note: YDCFF doesn’t necessarily support the views set forth in this article. All of our staff are afforded the right to free press and free speech. As such, they are allowed to express their personal opinions. YDCFF does not involve itself in matters of race, religion, politics or things of a sexual nature. If you choose to comment on this article, please do so in a reasonable, mature, adult manner. Thank You. YDCFF staff.