(As posted to my Gazette blog)
If I see one more headline pointing out Michael Sam’s sexual orientation — as in, “openly gay player drafted . . .” — I’m going to scream. (Actually, that is what I am doing right now.) The Internet is loaded with such headlines today, as if it is some sort of miracle.
Yes, it is nice to see that the NFL is not discriminating against a gay person. That’s the way it should be. It would be news if he was rejected simply because of his sexual orientation. But I don’t think NFL teams want a player’s sexual orientation to be highlighted — because it is irrelevant! They certainly don’t want to be patted on the back for doing the obviously right thing, i.e. not giving a damn about sexual orientation and focusing on football skills.
Too many media outlets are sensationalizing the “gay” angle of the story, and they may be doing more harm than good — i.e. sticking Michael with a label that overshadows his skills and actually discriminating against him.
It should be reported like any other NFL draft story is reported. Michael’s football skills should be the focus, not his sexual orientation. Sure, it is OK to mention in the body of the initial NFL Draft reports that he is the first openly gay player in the league. After that, it should never be mentioned again — unless Michael brings it up somehow.
Unless, of course, the media are going to report on the sexual orientation of every player in professional sports. As in, “So-and-So, who is a heterosexual, was drafted by the St. Louis Rams on Saturday.”