Michael Sam is now the most notable name among the upcoming NFL combine. He recently made headline news by disclosing his sexual orientation with the world. Sam’s big announcement was accompanied by an exclusive interview aired on ESPN where he proudly stated,
“I’m not afraid of who I am. I’m not afraid to tell the world who I am. I’m Michael Sam, I’m a college graduate, I’m African-American and I’m gay.”
As a result of his announcement the NFL issued a statement of acknowledgement and acceptance of his orientation and also released emails to players reminding them to use non offensive words this upcoming season. I watched ESPN’s Sportscenter, Around the Horn and Pardon the Interruption and on each show the effects of Sam’s announcement were debated and reported on by players and analysts. Concerns were raised about how having a homosexual player in the locker room could have adverse effects and ruin team chemistry and reports were made that his draft stock would drop.
In a interview with Sports Illustrated Michael Sam was asked why he decided to ‘come out‘ now as homosexual athletes make such announcements upon retirement. Sam stated that he wanted to tell his story his way and later said that he didn’t want it to become subject of rumor and speculation. I think the bigger question is why ‘come out’ at all? During his ESPN interview Sam said that his sexual orientation shouldn’t matter, that he should be judged solely on his ability to contribute to a team. With that being said, again, why ‘come out’ at all? Sam stated that he has no fear of rejection from future team mates and that he dejects the notion that all homosexuals are predators. So, for a third time, why ‘come out’ at all? Michael Sam has a publicist-why? What is it that publicists do? They create publicity. What better way to draw attention to a name that wasn’t generating much attention other than being a late round draft pick? If Sam were a projected #1 pick his sexual orientation wouldn’t be a topic of conversation.
At the end of the day, Michael Sam is a job applicant like any other college graduate. The NFL is an industry and each team is a company operating independently in said industry. Michael Sam is hoping to land a job within one of the industries 32 companies seeking services he can provide. His story should be no different than the Missouri graduate who is seeking a job in the healthcare industry. What doctor, nurse or nursing assistant feels the need to disclose their sexual preference to a hospital before a job interview? None. For no other job is this a prerequisite; why the NFL? When did ones sexual preference become apart of the screening process for a job? Did the first homosexual teacher get an interview; why Michael Sam then?
It was said that players may not feel comfortable showering next to Sam or rooming with him. Why; are they afraid he may be a peeping Tom getting free eye candy in the shower or that he will be trying to share hotel beds on the road? They act as if there are no rules in place regarding sexual harassment in the work place. When you do something professionally there is a sense of professionalism that is expected. NFL scouts, executives and players must keep this in mind moving forward. Furthermore, ones sexual orientation has no place in the workplace much like religion or politics. As long as a person is qualified they should be considered for a job and as long as they are productive they should keep their job.
Very simple, very plain.