Earlier this week, former Missouri defensive lineman and NFL prospect Michael Sam took a brave step forward in an attempt to establish universal acceptance in sports by coming out as a homosexual.
If Sam is drafted, experts have him going in the third to fifth round. He would become the first openly gay athlete in the National Football League.
This is an incredible move in the right direction in making the NFL, and every professional sports league, more accepting of each individual’s sexual orientation.
It still remains to be seen if Sam will be drafted and make an active NFL roster.
The talent is definitely there, so it would be a shame if NFL executives just looked to his recent announcement as a reason to avoid Sam on draft day.
The question still remains: will we now see a mass number of professional athletes finally come out of the closet?
While it would be beneficial if that happened, and would make professional sports better as a whole, it’s occurrence is doubtful.
Last April, NBA big man Jason Collins announced that he is gay. Collins coming out was a statement to all of professional sports, yet he still remains unsigned to this day.
Many people may look to Collins remaining unsigned as related to the fact that he came out, but I beg to differ on this case.
Collins is, and has been for some time, a very marginal NBA player at best. He may not have been signed despite his announcement, but it may have made teams shy away from his services.
At Missouri, Sam announced his homosexuality earlier in the season to his teammates and coaching staff, and they kept it quiet until after the season.
The team and coaching staff were very accepting and provided a comfortable environment for Sam. If Missouri could do it, then any NFL team should be able to provide that same acceptance.
The main goal of all of this is to make sure that athletes coming out are no longer news but a norm in the current professional sports culture.
I wish I could say that I think Sam will be automatically accepted into an NFL locker room, but that would be a lie.
Anyone that is a trailblazer in attempting to achieve equality, may it be gender, race or sexual orientation, is going to have to overcome more obstacles than other athletes.
I hope that more athletes come out, not only in the NFL but all professional leagues, and express their true emotions and selves. It would be a step in the right direction for sports and all of society.