When former Missouri Tiger defensive lineman Michael Sam announced that he was gay, the world of sports media jumped on it like a fumbled football. Since his announcement, Sam has been surrounded by a frenzy of news coverage, discussion and support. And while I, too, support Sam for being a proud, openly gay athlete, I can’t help but think that there are better ways for him to prove his point.
Sam announced publicly on Feb. 9 that he was gay, giving the game of football an unexpected shot of adrenaline. For the NFL especially, the acceptance of the first openly gay football player in the league’s history is nothing but great press. And as Sam, no longer restrained by the monetary restrictions of the NCAA, reaps the benefits — both tangible and social — the gay community stands witness to a sadly predictable step in the slightly wrong direction.
While I am sure that the All-American defensive lineman has the right intentions, his actions seem counterproductive. For many, the goal is for one day in the near future to have equal rights for everyone regardless of sexuality. If that is the case, then it must be achieved quietly, or society will be encouraged to put special focus on people with different sexual orientations.
ESPN, NFL.com and other news stations have released nothing but positive pieces on the NFL prospect, but if they do in fact support Sam, they should get the story off of their networks.
Major news stations should present these stories only once or twice, in order to inform their audience of important events regarding social issues, and leave it at that. There is no need for deep analysis and coverage of someone’s personal life, athlete or not.
The first NFL football player to be openly gay is certainly an important moment for gay rights and equality, and I appreciate and encourage the hope that it provides for millions of people in this world. However, if the goal is a society that truly gives no heed to sexual orientation, then it just can’t be so widely covered in our media.
Max Carter Columnist
Contact Max Carter at firstname.lastname@example.org