By now most people have probably heard about NFL prospect and ex-Missouri football player Michael Sam, who publicly declared the fact that he’s a proud gay man. This made news because Sam is projected to be drafted in May’s NFL draft where he would then become the NFL’s first openly gay athlete.
This, of course, has been met with ignorance from all sides.
The general debate seems to be, “How will the NFL handle an openly gay athlete inside the locker room?”
Seriously? I get why people are asking this question, and I’m sure some will have a problem with it, but do people really believe that having an openly gay NFL player will somehow destroy a locker room from within?
This is a league which has operated just fine with athletes who’ve been accused of murder, sexual assault, domestic abuse, countless DUI’s, aggravated assaults and other various crimes.
And don’t get me wrong, I’m not comparing being a homosexual to being an accused criminal (or even convicted in some instances). I’m simply stating that a league which has tolerated criminal activity, I think should be just fine with openly gay athletes.
We shouldn’t kid ourselves – there are gay athletes in the NFL right now. While they might not be “publicly gay” – yet – they’re still there. If some decide to come out publicly, do they then suddenly become less effective football players?
In fact, those who believe Sam won’t be accepted while they’ve cheered on – or played alongside – convicted criminals, only showcase their hypocrisy and ignorance. I’m sorry but if you accept someone who “settled” a sexual assault lawsuit (meaning they weren’t exactly found innocent of the alleged crime) yet shun someone because they happen to be gay, you’re pathetic.
Besides, this is a stupid question to begin with, because we already have the answer to whether or not an openly gay football player can be accepted inside of a locker room.
Look no further than the University of Missouri. Michael Sam being gay wasn’t “breaking news” for the Missouri football team. He came out to his team last August, before the season even began.
And what happened after that?
Well, the University of Missouri football team had one of their best seasons in school history, defeated Oklahoma State to win the Cotton Bowl and finished the season ranked anywhere between #5 and #6 in final polls.
Oh, and Michael Sam won the SEC Defensive Player of the Year award.
So it seems that his being openly gay didn’t have any kind of negative impact on the football team. Heck, if you want to say anything about him coming out having an impact on performance, it seems that unloading the burden of having to be secretive about who he really is actually propelled him to be more successful than before.
And if a bunch of 18-23 year old college football players can deal with an openly gay athlete in their locker room, I’m confident a bunch of grown men should do just fine.
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