The University of Missouri defensive lineman, Michael Sam’s decision to come out should not affect his position in the NFL draft.
On Feb. 10, the 24-year-old athlete revealed that he is “an openly proud gay man” and he wants to be in the NFL.
It is unfortunate that people are speculating that Sam’s announcement could drop his position in draft.
Sports Illustrated reports that prior to his announcement he was projected as a mid-to-late round draft pick.
According to Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated, “From a football perspective, his decision to come out prior to May’s NFL draft will make his path to the league daunting.
In blunt terms, they project a significant drop in Sam’s draft stock, a publicity circus and an NFL locker room culture is not prepared to deal with an openly gay player.”
Negativity like this surrounds Sam and is creating unnecessary speculation on how the locker-room culture will find his homosexuality unacceptable and create pandemonium in the media.
It’s becoming clearer that these reports that Sam faces are largely exaggerated.
Chris Connelly reports on ESPN that several of Sam’s teammates in Missouri were aware that Sam was gay.
“They supported me since day one,” said Sam. “I couldn’t have better teammates and I wouldn’t have the strength to do this today if I didn’t know how much support they’d given me this past semester.”
It would be foolish for a general manager to let somebody’s sexual orientation affect their decision to pick a skilled player out of fear that the team is unprepared for a gay player.
An NFL assistant coach, who remained anonymous, in an interview with Sports Illustrated said, “There are guys in locker rooms that maturity-wise cannot handle it or deal with the thought of that. It’s going to be a big distraction.”
Statements like these make me suspect that coaches don’t hold much of confidence in the capabilities of a team’s ability to accept a player based on his ability to play football.
Sports require players to test their abilities in the game against any situation, and Sam’s prior position as a mid-draft pick should speak volumes on its own.
Sam understands the repercussions that he’ll face on and off the field for his decision to come out.
It should be taken into consideration that he is fully capable of handling himself.
Players in the NFL have voiced their support for Michael Sam through social media outlets.
Player for the Miami Dolphins, Jonathan Martin tweeted, “Hats off to you Michael Sam, that takes some guts.”
Super Bowl M.V.P. linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks tweeted, “There is no room for bigotry in American sports.
It takes courage to change the culture.”
The predicted fear that the coaches and media have suggested is based on hypothetical thinking and off stereotypes of locker room culture.
Michael Sam is clearly a capable player and general managers and head coaches should re-evaluate their apprehensiveness before they make a decision to rule him out as a draft pick.