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Why Do You Care If Michael Sam Is Gay?

Jordan Gary |
February 10, 2014 | 8:51 p.m. PST

Staff Writer

Michael Sam is an All-American Missouri alum entering the 2014 NFL Draft. (Francis Page Jr./Creative Commons)
Michael Sam is an All-American Missouri alum entering the 2014 NFL Draft. (Francis Page Jr./Creative Commons)
Sunday afternoon, I woke up from a nap, checked my phone, noticed about 10 notifications from ESPN and Bleacher Report and honestly wondered if something had gone terribly wrong at the Olympics. I hadn't received that many updates from both news sources in such a short period of time since the day Aaron Hernandez was arrested, so you can see where my concern stemmed from.

Then I read through the notifications. I thought "Oh. Some guy in the draft is gay. Cool, why do I care again?"

I suppose, yes, in terms of Sam being the first openly gay man to "potentially" play in the NFL, it would be a big deal. In terms of him being the first male athlete to "potentially" be in any of the big four professional sport leagues (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL), come out as openly gay and "potentially" play in a game as an out athlete, it would be a big deal. In terms of him opening up pathways for gay athletes to come out or start playing their respective sports if they were too scared to previously pursue them, then yes, maybe it's a big deal.

But I honestly want to know why you, someone who does not play alongside this man, play in the NFL in general, or even personally know him, care about his sexual orientation? Why do you care about any of the personal details in his life besides the fact that he is an exemplary football player that would probably be fantastic on whatever team is unlucky enough to call you one of its fans?

I don't care if this man is gay. I also don't care if this man is gay AND wants to play football. I didn't care when Aaron Rodgers was supposedly in a relationship with his roommate, and I definitely didn't care when Chris Kluwe announced his support for pro-gay marriage laws in Minnesota.

That's not to say I don't care about gay rights. I cared when Kluwe said he was fired from the Vikings organization because he supported gay marriage. That's not okay. I also cared when Chris Culliver said gay men would not be accepted in NFL locker rooms. That is definitely not okay.

I am merely neutral to gay people. I am also neutral to women. I am neutral to anyone and everyone. I believe everyone should be treated equally and have equal rights regardless of what category society chooses to put them in. The only category we are all in is "human being" and that is the only category that should matter.

READ MORE: Michael Sam, The NFL's Biggest Experiment

However, I am not trying to make this an issue of the lack of equality for the LGBT community. I am also not trying to make this an issue of gay rights when it comes to athletes. Those are issues that others are far more qualified to write about than I, and issues that others can write about far more eloquently than I. The point I am trying to make is merely that the public should not care about this man's personal life. His life is not your life, it is not your family member's life, and it is not your friend's life.*

Just as our society focuses far too much on the personal lives of celebrities (in case you were wondering, I also don't care if George Clooney will ever get married again), we focus far too much on the personal lives of athletes, and that is in part due to the fact that they are increasingly viewed as celebrities. There is a difference between being interested in popular culture and actually stalking Justin Bieber.

And while caring about this man's sexual orientation is not exactly the same as stalking Justin Bieber, in some ways it is worse. Even if you personally know this man, why should his sexual preferences matter at all to you? If you aren't the one entering into a relationship with him, then his preferences and orientation has absolutely zero impact on you. You are still you, you still prefer what you prefer, and you are still oriented in whichever way you are oriented. If you are really so opposed to LGBT equality that having a gay NFL player is impossible as far as you're concerned, then I have a feeling you have already made that perfectly clear to just about everyone you know.

So, I implore you to really think about why you actually care about Michael Sam's sexual orientation.

*Note: If you are Michael Sam, former DE for Missouri and current draft prospect, or he is your family member or close, personal friend, then please, care about his personal life all you wish.


Reach Staff Writer Jordan Gary by email or on Twitter.



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