Homosexual activists continue to drive gay issues to the front of the news. It has happened again with University of Missouri football player Michael Sam announcing publicly that he is gay. He is a likely cadidate for the NFL. News commentators are picking up the news. They are touting it as a major historic moment. They are claiming it as a major milestone in the gay rights movement. Some are comparing it to Jackie Robinson as the first major league baseball player. There are also the questions as to what this will mean for his career.
I am tempted to just let this go without commenting on it. I hate to give the gay rights movement the attention. At the same time I need to respond to some of the claims and to put the whole issue in perspective.
I really don’t think that anyone is surprised that there is a homosexual in college or professional football. With the case of Jackie Robinson it was clear that blacks had been discriminated in major league sports. I don’t know if there has been discrimination against homosexuals in professional sports. I would think that every team is looking to obtain the best players. I doubt if they would refuse a player based on who they like to have sex with. It would not surprise me if gays have been discouraged from making their sexual preference public as it would likely create controversy and could affect the fan base.
My question is what does a person’s sexual preference have to do with football? Does being gay make you a better football player? Does it make you worse? Of course not. It is really totally irrelevant. Sexual orientation has no bearing on athleticism.
But professional football is not just athleticism; it is much more. It is athleticism and its business with ticket sales, product sales and professional endorsements. The publics attraction to, or rejection of a particular person or team can affect business. The team owners will need to take that into account in this case. Owners have had to deal with these types of issues before. Some players are a real draw because of their personalities and even their personal lives. Others have had personal lives and public behavior that have caused real problems for the owners. Sometimes the more colorful players have helped to keep focus on the team by staying in the news even when their behavior would be considered bad.
Another factor that plays into professional sports is celebrity status. Like it or not, famous athletes are idolized. People worship them and seek to emulate them. I don’t think anyone has a problem in setting them up as examples of people who set goals and work hard to achieve them. In other words athletes should be praise and admired for their athleticism. The problem is that our nature is to go beyond that. We tend to want to create crossovers. We can error in two ways. First we can find someone who is a good athlete and set him up as an example for more than his athleticism. The other is that we don’t like him for some other reason in their personal life and we refuse to give them proper credit as a good athlete.
In recent years we have had some good athletes that are outspoken Christians. Some people have had a problem with that and I can understand why. What does being a Christian have to do with being a good athlete? Nothing. I can also understand that athletes who have the microphone want to use it to speak about things they care about. If a person is a Christian and that is a defining aspect of their life I would expect them to speak about it. Why would they have to hide who they are?
We will see about Michael Sam. It may very well be that his sexual preference is something that he didn’t want to hide and getting it out in the open is a way of not making it become an issue later. It may be that it is a defining aspect of who he is and he will want to make it an issue every time he gets the microphone. The public will have to decide how they want to respond to this aspect of his life. I just hope that the interviewers will let him take the lead. Michael Sam is primarily an athlete. I hope that people and particularly the media will let him be an athlete and not make him an unwilling spokesperson for gay rights. It would be a shame to have his athletic abilities be overshadowed by his homosexuality.