You gotta hope that some day, the announcement by a pro athlete that he is gay will not be headline news. Surely the day can’t be far off in the United States and Canada when such announcements will be met with yawns and comments like, “Who cares about your sexual orientation? Can you catch/throw the damn ball?”
I think we’re a little closer to that day thanks to top NFL prospect Michael Sam, who spoke publicly about his sexual orientation for the first time on Sunday in an interview with the New York Times, reports the paper. Michael is being applauded by many today. Still, as the N.Y. Times report says:
“Now Mr. Sam enters an uncharted area of the sports landscape. He is making his public declaration before he is drafted, to the potential detriment to his professional career. And he is doing so as he prepares to enter a league with an overtly macho culture, where controversies over homophobia have attracted recent attention.
“As the pace of the gay rights movement has accelerated in recent years, the sports industry has changed relatively little for men, with no publicly gay athletes in the N.F.L., the N.B.A., the N.H.L. or Major League Baseball. Against this backdrop, Mr. Sam could become a symbol for the country’s gay rights movement or a flash point in a football culture war — or both.”
You gotta know everybody will be watching the NFL draft in May very carefully. He is a top prospect. “He was a first-team all-American and was named the Associated Press defensive player of the year in the Southeastern Conference, widely considered the top league in college football. Teammates voted him Missouri’s most valuable player,” reports the New York Times.
Obviously, his sexual orientation shouldn’t make any difference. But, sadly, it is still big news — today, anyway. But maybe it won’t be by the time the NFL season gets underway. And maybe other gay pro athletes will be inspired by Michael, and make their announcements . . . and we’ll all yawn.
Meanwhile, I don’t even watch NFL Football, but I’m rooting for Michael Sam now.
Way to go, Michael! You are a champion in every sense of the word.
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On Twitter: @JillianPage1