I was inspired to write this post after watching a YouTube video of Dallas, Texas sportscaster, Dale Hansen, defending Missouri’s Michael Sam–the best defensive player in college football–after Sam announced to the media he is gay. Too many times young people in locker rooms all over America make light of others by tagging those they deem to be weak with the word gay. Simply put, it is insulting to gay people. Just as many leaders and parents in the black community want to put a stop to the use of the N-word, it’s time for our society to recognize gay people for their strengths and contributions to our world. We need to stop applying the word gay as joke or a slur, as if it’s a weakness. The best defensive college football player in the country is gay. That is far from being weak.
I applaud Hansen for using his broadcast time to speak out on this topic. In a media culture that perpetuates stereotypes and a sports culture that being gay is pejorative, Hansen’s opinion piece was an act of courage. A straight man in a conservative state, Hansen took some personal and professional risk to defend the rights of Michael Sam to play the sport he loves, regardless of his sexual orientation. For, as Hansen points out, the NFL has looked the other way when it comes to players who have been adulterers, drunk drivers, animal abusers, as well as players caught with drugs and prostitutes.
This story is indicative of the two Americas we live in–the one America in which “all men are created equal” with “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and the other America, which Hansen suggests is built on a national framework supporting divisiveness and discrimination.
It’s a shame to hear reports of some scouts asking questions about Michael Sam’s personal relationships before the NFL draft and others saying this revelation will force him to be picked lower than if he had said nothing. If no one is questioning the relationships of other potential draft picks, then why subject Michael Sam to unfair scrutiny?
Let’s change the conversation from one of discrimination and divisiveness to one of acceptance and tolerance. I hope the NFL and the team that drafts Michael Sam does the right thing and makes sure the best defensive player in college football is given the same treatment today as he was before he announced his sexuality.