Michael Sam, star football player for the University of Missouri and a prime candidate for the upcoming NFL draft, has recently opened up to the public about his homosexuality. Sam has been met with overwhelming support from the majority of the country, and the buzz around his sexuality has many speculating about how this announcement will effect his chances come May. There is much reason to believe that his honesty and courage will only help further him in his football career, but it also has the potential to do so much more for young sports fans that can identify with and look up to this sports icon.
Changes in culture over the last 50 years make Sam’s coming out as homosexual not only acceptable and praiseworthy, but they could make him a more valuable player to have than his competition monetarily. His openness has caused many gay sports fans to rally behind him, and has gotten his name popularized in a society that is very much becoming a culture of acceptance for homosexuals everywhere. Sam may very well bring more money in to whichever team picks him up simply because of his growing fan base, and the support that he is being shown by the American people indicates a favor towards him that will likely only grow with time. This is a new turn of events for the sports community, which is in many ways still playing catch up with this evolving gay-accepting culture. For the gay community to be able to branch out openly in the sports world is a massive achievement in the cause for universal acceptance. Sam is a trailblazer for the sports world and its fans, and has the potential to become the NFL’s first openly gay player.
Sam’s action in professing his homosexuality proudly will have a massively positive impact on the youth of America. So many young people wrestle with their sexualities, and for those involved in sports the struggle is even harder since it has long been a stereotype that being an athlete entailed being a masculine, ‘jock’ type. This mold young people feel they need to conform to gives so many teenagers reason to harbor insecurities and deny themselves the satisfaction of being who they are. In many cases this fear of rejection has led to suicide and deep depression. Sam is an inspiration to young gay boys who want to throw a football or join a baseball team everywhere. His coming out shows them that it is entirely possible to be gay and be a sports lover, and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing what you love and being who you are. It is a jumping off point for parents to take what Sam did as an example and educate their children that there is no stereotype young sports lovers and players are “supposed” to conform to, and that it is perfectly normal for any young person to have the sexual identity they have, and that this in no way dictates the kinds of activities they ought to be involved in. President Obama has publicly commended Sam for his coming out, “I really like the fact that Michael did it before the draft because his attitude was, ‘You know what, I know who I am. I know I can play great football and judge me on the merits.'”
Support for Michael Sam is in full swing at his University where the Westboro Baptist Church had organized a protest against Sam Saturday the 15th. The church members were met with a massive human wall formed by the students of the University in support of their fellow student. This project, dubbed #StandwithSam, began on Facebook, and a total of 4,952 students were on board to support Sam in protesting the Westboro protest. The human wall formed kept the Baptist Church members from reaching the campus to protest, and everything was accomplished in a peaceful and respectful manner. Sam’s choice to open up to the public about being a homosexual in the sports world has the potential to show so many people who before may have been prejudiced that being gay dictates nothing about the interests a person should have, or their athletic abilities.
by TESS McDERMOTT / contributing writer