The backlash to the announcement by University of Missouri defensive end and likely NFL draft pick Michael Sam that he is gay is troubling the usual suspects. Anti-gay author Michael Brown is out with a column criticizing Sam’s “selfish act” and suggesting that he should’ve stayed in the closet.
According to Brown, Sam’s “hormones might be raging for men the way the other players’ hormones rage for women,” which will make “the ‘bromance’ type of close relationships that many players enjoy” impossible since they won’t be “as physical and free with a homosexual teammate.”
But once they have made their announcement, how can everyone be expected to feel completely comfortable? And with the “bromance” type of close relationships that many players enjoy, would they be as physical and free with a homosexual teammate?
And since NFL players are hardly known for their sexual purity—with many notable exceptions—is it homophobic to think that Sam’s hormones might be raging for men the way the other players’ hormones rage for women?
Looked at from another angle, it was more of a selfish act, and not only in the sense that Sam is suddenly a national celebrity. (As of Feb. 10, a Google search for his name yielded more than 3 million hits. Just one week ago, his numbers would have been a fraction of this.) What I mean is that professional football is all about the team, and the focus must be on making a joint sacrifice in order to win rather than drawing attention to oneself.
Why can’t he just play the game, keep his private life private (as many public figures do), and when his career is over, if he wants to tell the whole world he’s gay, he can do so then?
Right on cue, Rush Limbaugh declared that Sam’s announcement is proof that heterosexuals are “under assault,” a claim he made during a rant against the gay “political agenda” that couples as a great example of heterosexual privilege.
The Media Research Center is upset that major broadcast networks “celebrated the announcement” and chided sports commentators for their alleged mistreatment of Tim Tebow in an article that seems to imply that Tebow is the first and only evangelical Christian ever to play for the NFL.
ESPN on Monday was a long parade of congratulatory guests, like columnist Kay Fagan, who used words like “authenticity” and “inclusion.” Fagan ended a rapturous column by saying of Sam, “His truth is now.” (Does homosexuality come with a separate truth? Or do you pay extra, like undercarriage coating?)
Ok, lets simmer down and wait for the backlash. It’ll come. It has to when personal life and philosophy and social issues intersect with the NFL. Here it comes … Er, no? But when Tim Tebow entered the draft he encountered a rain of hate from people worried for the sport, people who resented having to hear about the personal beliefs of “Saint Timmy,” as CBS’s Pete Prisco called him in April, 2010.
Pastor Ron Cantor took to Charisma to warn that Sam’s presence in the locker room “is going to make for an uncomfortable situation.”
Cantor asserts that the truly courageous people are those who are worried about having a gay teammate: “How ironic—in the past it was the homosexual who was afraid to come out. Now it’ll be the guy who doesn’t want to take a shower next to the homosexual who will be shunned and shamed—and he will be told to keep his mouth shut.”
Let me just be honest. If I had a job whereby I had to undress and shower several times a week with a roomful of very fit, attractive females—well, let’s just say I would struggle. And that clearly is the concern of heterosexual football players. It is a legitimate issue. I am not an expert, but if someone says to me that they are attracted to men and then are going to see them undressed on an almost daily basis, it is going to make for an uncomfortable situation. Right?
But don’t say it out loud—not unless you are willing to be skewered by the media elites. Oh, wait, too late. Jonathan Vilma of the New Orleans Saints already stated the obvious.
“I think that he would not be accepted as much as we think he would be accepted," Vilma said. "I don’t want people to just naturally assume, like, ‘Oh, we’re all homophobic.’ That’s really not the case. Imagine if he’s the guy next to me and, you know, I get dressed, [bare], taking a shower, the whole nine, and it just so happens he looks at me. How am I supposed to respond?”
Vilma made those completely honest and valid comments a few days ago—before Sam came out. For sure, he will be vilified and called immature. But come on, let’s be honest: No one expects adult men and women to take mass showers together on the job—for the obvious reasons. But Vilma is juvenile and uneducated for not wanting to shower next to an openly gay man?
I wonder if more NFL players will have the courage to speak up. How ironic—in the past it was the homosexual who was afraid to come out. Now it’ll be the guy who doesn’t want to take a shower next to the homosexual who will be shunned and shamed—and he will be told to keep his mouth shut.