The next thing you know, ESPN is reporting “breaking news” on the subject. And all the talking sports heads on TV and radio are discussing the impact of this announcement, and how it might affect the locker room, or affect the team in general. Will he drop in the draft because teams might shy away from a potential media circus? Will he be drafted at all?
Maybe it’s just me. But I don’t think this is going to be a big deal at all. Have you noticed something in the sports media recently? Michael Sam isn’t front page news anymore. When the story broke, it was everywhere. But after every journalist gave his take, the media frenzy has become more of a media trickle – with only an occasional story here and there. And why is that? Because it’s just not all that shocking to most people.
We live in an era where intolerance simply isn’t tolerated by the majority anymore. There are openly gay students in high schools everywhere. And their classmates couldn’t care less. With each passing generation, we’ve become more and more tolerant. It’s the older generation that traditionally has had the biggest problem with homosexuality. But to be blunt, they’re dying off.
I full anticipate the Michael Sam stories to start heating up again as the NFL Draft day approaches. And I expect there will be even more once he actually signs a contract, joins the team, and starts practicing. And what’s going to happen when the media asks questions of his future teammates? I have a feeling you’ll get answers like:
“He’s our teammate. We support him.”
“All we care about is winning. And as long as he helps us on the field…”
Do you know what those answers are? They’re boring. And boring doesn’t sell. But if boring is all you’re going to get, the media will write about something else. And the story about Michael Sam’s sexuality will fade away.I applaud Michael Sam for having the courage to be the first openly gay NFL player. But I don’t think he’ll be remembered like Jackie Robinson is in baseball. Ultimately our society doesn’t view this as that big of a deal. He’ll be remembered for his football accomplishments and perhaps the answer to a trivia question. But it won’t be as the first openly gay athlete in one of the four major U.S. sports. Why? Because just yesterday a man named Jason Collins (a free agent NBA player who came out after last season) signed a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets. The story broke in the afternoon. And a few hours later he was on the court playing. It all happened so fast the media didn’t even have time to talk the story to death. As it turned out, there was no need to. The crowd cheered him. His teammates accepted him. That’s the story. He’s no different than any other player.