Michael Sam, be great

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

10 February 2014

Michael Sam will not be the last openly gay athlete in the NFL 

As an older than middle-aged white male, I’d like to think all is basically right with the world and that the fight against discrimination (based on race, religion, gender and sexual preference) has come a long way.

But I don’t want to be naïve.

“My first thought was that it wouldn’t be a big deal. We’ve moved beyond all that and, like Sam himself said, the NFL locker room is just another workplace.”

 

I thought about my own comfortable naivety when Missouri defensive end Michael Sam announced last night on ESPN (and in The New York Times) that he was openly gay as he prepares to enter the NFL draft.

Michael SamMy first thought was that it wouldn’t be a big deal. We’ve moved beyond all that and, like Sam himself said, the NFL locker room is just another workplace.

That might be the problem. The past season’s allegations of bullying in the Miami Dolphins locker room demonstrates that there’s always turmoil. That kind of harassment goes on all the time in other work places. It doesn’t even have to be about sexual orientation. One in four women have reported being sexually harassed at work.

My point is that, while Michael Sam is projected to be a middle-round draft pick, we should’ve be naïve in thinking that things will go smoothly for him. He’ll run into fans who will yell at him, front office personnel afraid to draft him and even teammates and opponents who will be unable to accept him.

This is a brave action Sam has taken, no doubt about it.

The best words I can say are taken from a tweet last night by ESPN’s Michelle Beadle: “Finally. Be great, Michael.”

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