Time to advance from televised kiss

Time to advance from televised kiss

By Sam Deal, Sports Writer

Michael Sam’s tearful celebration following his selection in the NFL draft has become a defining moment for not just the league, but the entire sports community, which is evident by the story’s dominance of national sports coverage this past week.

This is impressive considering the NBA is attempting to give the boot to one of its owners, the NHL and NBA are in the midst of one of the most exciting playoff seasons in recent memory, along with any of the other 255 players selected in the NFL draft.

Sam became the first openly gay football player drafted in the NFL. The St. Louis Rams selected Sam for one reason: They believe he has the ability to help their team win football games.

Rams head coach Jeff Fischer talked about the decision to draft Sam. “Michael’s value as a football player was off the charts. So we drafted Michael as a football player. And he has an opportunity now to compete to try to make our football team.”

It is clear that the repercussions of their decision go much deeper, and is sending a message to all professional sports teams. A person’s sexuality, similar to race, gender and social class, should have no say in determining potential for success, for Sam and the team overall.

For the NFL, the outlook has changed. Openly gay football players will be part of NFL locker rooms from here on out.

The 249th selection in this year’s NFL draft has forever changed sports for the better. However, the story is far from over, and it’s time for the narrative to change.

Michael Sam will forever be linked to openly gay players in professional sports. Now that he has been selected, it is time for the two paths to diverge in order for both Sam and the NFL to grow.

For Michael Sam, the question becomes if he can make the Rams team next season. Seventh round draft picks aren’t guaranteed a roster spot, and he will have to fight to earn his place on the pro team.

It is more than OK to look at these two topics separately. Michael Sam is a talented, young

football player. The NFL is a business which hires talented, young football players. The Rams see Sam as an asset and Sam sees the Rams as his opportunity to make a life dream become a reality.

The courage that Sam has shown over the past few months is what has brought us to this point, and it will carry professional sports into a new era of acceptance towards all people.

Rams general manager Les Snead spoke of that bright future after drafting Sam, saying it will be “normal” and “nothing special” when future openly-gay players come into the league.

The Rams decision to draft Sam in the seventh round demonstrates that he will be allotted every opportunity to prove himself. He can take comfort in knowing that his future will be determined by his ability, not his sexuality.

Michael Sam’s story is just beginning, and it goes hand in hand with a more accepting sports culture. Intolerance and bigotry have slowly been pushed out of sports and have lost a footing in society as a whole.

It is now time to let Sam be a man who plays football rather than be the openly-gay football player.