The world has been set ablaze by Michael Sam. SEC defensive player of the year, this defensive end announced that he is openly gay just weeks before the NFL draft was set to make him a multi-millionaire. Up until now, there has not been an openly gay player entering the NFL draft, so Sam is making a big splash, and it has not been without controversy.
It may seem that in this day and age this shouldn’t be that big of a deal. Basically no one in America thinks that Michael Sam is the first gay professional athlete. It’s fairly common knowledge from former and current athletes in all major professional sports that homosexual athletes are not that uncommon at all. The teammates generally have an inkling about it, and in some cases, were told outright about it. The case of Michael Sam is only unique because he is “out of the closet.” It brings up decades-old debates that were once applied to the military. The old classic gay-related rules and the military always focused around the concept that while gay people might be able to do their jobs just as well in the army, is it fair to force other guys to be exposed to them in an environment like that where guys traditionally have a locker-room type relationship? Well, many people are putting the same arguments forward in this case.
Then there is the whole drama about the draft itself. Many people are saying that Michael Sam just made an ingenious strategic move with regard to his draft stock. The concept is that the first team that reasonably could be accused of passing over Sam will pick him to avoid being accused of homophobic discrimination. Sam might actually secure a few extra bucks by moving up a little bit in the draft by announcing he’s gay. How amazing is that when viewed against our nation’s landscape? This guy is actually using his gayness to advance himself in life. This conspiracy theory that Sam would do this just to help his stock is silly talk. We are now going to announce the real conspiracy regarding Michael Sam. Are you ready?
Michael Sam announced his sexuality for the media because it was about to come out anyway. Worried that if the mainstream media were left to pick him apart, he decided to take a proactive approach and scoop his own story before the media could. He also didn’t want to be put it in that position where he was “taken by surprise” and asked questions by the media about why he was hiding, forcing him to take one of several stances. He might have said he was embarrassed about his sexuality, but then that would enrage every gay and lesbian organization in America who can’t stand anyone indicating anything but that being gay is supercool. He could have said that he was hiding it because he was afraid of what his teammates, coaches, and most importantly, the NFL might think about it. But then he would risk pissing off any of those people that he just accused of rampant homophobia. So, Sam chose to be the aggressor here and nobly share his story. It’s working. People are making him out to be some kind of hero for what he is doing. Like he is pushing some sort of agenda. People are even comparing it to Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights movement headed by Martin Luther King, Jr. Is this that mark in the sand where we as America will finally take gay people everywhere out of the chains, out of the cotton fields, and let them drink from our water fountains?
In any case, Michael Sam’s real reasons for coming out has a lot more to do with the fact that he had no choice than it does any sort of political agenda. His own father said that he went out drinking when his son told him he was gay and doesn’t want his grandchildren brought up in “that environment.” Pretty strong words from the old man.
The bottom line is that Sam did what he did because the poking media was about to blow this into an even bigger firestorm, and this is the closest thing to a high road as he could find in this situation. He does deserve some credit for sticking up for himself and not letting the media push him around and tailor their story to their own demands. But is he a civil rights hero? Hardly. Will his draft stock go up? Who cares? SEC defensive players of the year go in the first round. End of story. No team would dare push him to the second round over this for pure fear of the analysis of their draft move. He’ll go high, and he is going to be a very, very rich man in no time at all.
A very rich gay man. You got a problem with that?