When NBA center Jason Collins openly came out as gay in April 2013, it was only a matter of time until more professional athletes would follow his example.
Michael Sam, defensive lineman for the Missouri Tigers, came out in a recent interview with the New York Times. If he is picked during the draft, he will become the first openly gay player in the NFL.
With the NFL combines and draft slowly approaching, it will be interesting to see how players, coaches and team owners handle such a situation, despite an outpouring of support for Sam.
Basketball legend Charles Barkley, sportscaster Dale Hansen and thousands of students at Sam’s university have been vocal in their support of Sam.
However there are questions that are still being asked; Will Sam’s draft-stock fall because of his sexual orientation? What kinds of questions will he be asked in his combine interviews? And once Sam is drafted, how will the fans treat him?
Despite these questions, one thing should be certain – Sam can play with the best of them. Performance is the only factor that he should be judged on.
Sam led the SEC with 11.5 sacks and 19 tackles. He earned SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year honors this past season and is rated the 12th-best outside pass-rusher in the upcoming NFL draft. He has clearly proven himself to be a top pick and should definitely be treated as such.
It will be interesting to see how the sports world will react and adapt to bigger name athletes coming out. Hopefully if more brave men, like Sam and Collins continue to come out, the sports world will become far more progressive and sexuality will stop being an issue.