Thursday, July 24, 2014

Judge on talent, not on sexual orientation

Being gay should not affect the decision-making process when evaluating a player’s talent before the draft

COMING OUT — Michael Sam will be the first openly gay player in the NFL if he is selected in the 2014 draft. Google Images

COMING OUT — Michael Sam will be the first openly gay player in the NFL if he is selected in the 2014 draft. Google Images

Many different character traits have been hidden by NFL uniforms over the years. Drug addicts, those convicted for crimes and homosexual players have all at one point laced up their cleats for an NFL team.

However, if drafted, University of Missouri senior Michael Sam will be the first openly gay football player to make it into the NFL. Openly gay meaning, unlike previous players, the media would know that Sam is homosexual instead of having to wait until his career is over to find out his sexual orientation.

Honestly, who cares if he is homosexual or not? His sexuality has nothing to do with whether or not he can play football well.

According to a New York Times article, Sam’s team members, such as Elvis Fisher, an offensive lineman and captain of the 2012 Missouri football team, support him regardless of his sexuality.

“You don’t set out wanting to know each other’s life, but you spend so much time with each other, you can’t help but know them,” Fisher said. “I knew, and I love the guy.”

So, with the question of other players’ reactions out of the way, the only hindrance to Sam in pursuit of his NFL dream is his talent.

“I am often asked about players who step out of the silent bubble,” Andrew Brandt, a sports executive with more than 20 years’ experience in professional football and an NFL business analyst for ESPN, said in an article by the Monday Morning Quarterback. “My answer is always the same: a player can do so without fear of consequence, no matter how subtle, if he is a superior talent, with the leverage of elite playmaking ability. A player who is ‘just another guy’ forces front offices to consider a risk reward equation when there is increased media attention.”

Even before coming out, the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year and consensus first team All-American had been tagged by critics as a potential 3rd-5th round draft choice.

According to an article posted by The Boston Globe, Sam is simply undersized for his position. A veteran NFL executive who wished to remain anonymous in the article said Sam is “unremarkable.”

“To me, he is an average prospect,” said the personnel executive. “People are going to think he is a great player, and when he doesn’t get drafted high, it’s going to be because he came out or whatever. To me, a lot of academics and people who don’t know the game, who simply look at his credentials on paper, are going to think that.”

Despite Sam’s collegiate track record as an elite player, he has yet to prove himself on the professional level. His homosexuality may not be seen as a hindrance if he had already achieved the same success he has in college. The fact is, he has not yet made it to the status as an elite NFL player. Talent is not based on one’s sexuality. I do not believe Sam should be in the news for his sexual preferences.

Take a look at Sam’s past as recorded by the New York Times. Sam endured the death of three of his siblings, another two were incarcerated, and his parents were separated. His father moved to North Texas to be a trucker, and his mother did not support Sam’s football dreams. Sam reported being closer to his friends than his own family members.

I personally do not know what it feels like to walk in Sam’s shoes, and it does not look like a comfortable road to travel. I do not promote homosexuality, but I promote his right to communicate his beliefs.

What is the difference between Christians and Sam? Sam’s sins are visible and spread across magazine pages, while our sins are often carefully covered. Many Christians’ sins are hidden inconsistencies that threaten their walks as much as struggling with sexuality would for Sam.

Oftentimes, it is easy to judge someone in which their sins are openly displayed, when in reality it should make it easier for us to embrace them and show them God’s love. Love the sinner, hate the sin, and let him have the career he deserves. Indispensible players will always be accepted, and I hope Sam makes it to that status. I would support him, because if you ask me, everyone made in the image of God deserves a fan club.

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