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BG24 Newscast
September 21, 2023

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BG24 Newscast
September 21, 2023

Athlete announces sexuality, both positive and negative announcements

This past Sunday, a very courageous young man did something that will not only impact him, but also the world of professional sports.

Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year Michael Sam of the University of Missouri came out as a gay man.

He is not the first active or retired professional athlete to do this.

He is, however, the first college football player about to be drafted that ever has though and that has created quite a stir in the national media.

Sam has the ability to play in the NFL.

He may or may not become a star, but his talent is evident and the young man can play.

He is projected as a mid-round draft pick and many a player has stayed on the professional gridiron from that draft position. He can and will help some team’s defense.

The question now becomes how has the most macho of all professional sports accepted him?

Almost immediately, the reaction to Sam’s announcement was highly positive.

Unfortunately though, some front office executives have used words like “distraction” as it pertains to Sam. Former Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Herman Edwards described Sam’s

sexuality as “baggage.”

Anonymously, an NFL player personnel assistant said football is still a “man’s-man game” and having an openly gay player would “chemically imbalance an NFL locker room and meeting room.”

This of course is troubling talk for those concerned with equal rights.

More evolved players and former players see troubling signs in the language of some reaction.

Some like former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe see the potential discrimination as veiled and spoken in encryption. When asked about Sam and possible discrimination against him Kluwe stated, “Most of them [commenters] are smart enough not to put anything down in writing where you have an email chain or something like that. It would just be, ‘Hey, this guy could be considered a distraction.’ Or, ‘Have you heard about this Michael Sam kid? Is his character there?’ It’s very much code-word type stuff.”

For decades, professional football has propagated a gladiator image. It has used such words a “combat” and “war” to describe the action.

This in turn has created an aura of hyper-masculinity amongst its players.

This caveman mentality is not universal, but it is still very evident. One only needs to Google the name Richie Incognito to provide a classic example of this.

So the question is what happens now and what can Sam expect?

As a follower of professional football for around 35 years, I can say that talent talks.

Sam will be drafted. Yes, I believe that some teams will scratch his name off their prospective list of players they would possibly draft.

This is disgraceful, but it will happen. I can also say that there are some teams with progressive, smart people running them.

They will not only see Sam as a quality football player but as a man of immense bravery.

It only seems logical that in a sport that purports itself to be the toughest that a team will look at Sam and see what true toughness is.

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