When football superstar Michael Sam came out as gay in the New York Times last weekend, much of the country was ready for it.
We started figuring this out when NBA player Jason Collins came out last year, making him the first openly gay male pro athlete ever. Athletes from lower-level leagues come out every day, and especially as we turn our attention to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, we’re more and more attuned to the destructive consequences of systemic homophobia and its effects on the sporting world.
On its cover this week, Sports Illustrated juxtaposed two telling headlines: “America is ready for Michael Sam” in bold font, next to a smaller “Is the NFL ready for Michael Sam?” Different people have different answers, but a few outspoken advocates who know their football are pretty sure that welcoming a gay player shouldn’t have any effect on the game.
For example, former NFL player Donté Stallworth has tweeted his support for Sam and said that any team afraid to “handle the media coverage” he’ll spark is “already a loser.” Dallas sports anchor Dale Hansen made an even bigger statement criticizing the NFL for welcoming accused rapists and criminals, yet potentially shunning a gay player.
The Christian website Charisma News asked some of these questions, too — but they’ve gotten their answers all wrong. Writer Michael Brown is clearly uncomfortable with LGBT people in general, let alone gay athletes, so he doesn’t even know where to start with Michael Sam. He’s got all kinds of questions about how a pro football team could possibly function with a gay player on the field and in practice and (gasp!) in the locker room.
His answers to those questions were pretty terrible, so I thought I’d step in and help him out. (His questions in bold.)