Michael Sam, “the first openly gay player ever drafted by the NFL®,” is better at football than I am, he’s better at football than you are, but he’s not good enough to make the Rams.
As if the city of St. Louis hasn’t gotten enough bad press lately for the events in Ferguson and simply being St. Louis, news that their professional football team cut Michael Sam. How many hate crimes can one city commit in a single month?
Sam, the most celebrated 7th round draft pick in history, was cut Saturday not because he’s gay, but because he’s not (yet) good enough to play professional football. That he was treated just like everyone else should be cause of celebration. That is, after all, the point of the gay rights movement, right? Well…
Time magazine writes, “The Rams’ decision to cut him is just another hurdle that will ultimately demonstrate the courage and fortitude of a great man.” But what makes Sam a “great man”?
It’s that he’s gay.
No one celebrates straight men as “great” simply because they’re straight, not even Hugh Hefner. But Sam, according to Time, “knows how to overcome set-backs and handle pressure. He was made for this trailblazing role. He was made for the NFL.”
He’s just not in it right now.
There’s no doubt Sam was a great college football player, but that $3.50 will get you a cup of coffee. Pro football is different from college football, and many great college players can’t make the transition. Maybe Sam will be picked up by another team, maybe he won’t. But whatever happens to him will have nothing to do with his sexuality. His endorsements will, but whether or not he plays anywhere won’t.
Sports are the ultimate meritocracy – If you can play, you will play. If someone new plays better than a beloved veteran with overwhelming fan support, the new guy will play. What you do off the field, unless it involved domestic violence, drugs, murder, or other crimes, doesn’t matter. If you can help a team win, you will play.
According to Time, “Many in the LGBT community are lashing out at the NFL today, claiming homophobia. It’s understandable. Gay men have been told for decades they’re not good enough to play football, they’re not welcome in the locker rooms. Some of those messages have even reverberated in 2014. While the Rams’ decision wasn’t based on homophobia, it’s hard not to afford gay men a little foot-stomping at this latest rejection.”
No, it is. Sorry “gay men” and “the LGBT community,” but you don’t get special exemptions. People are people, and what you do with your genitals does not entitle a group whose bumper sticker slogan is “equality.” You don’t get to claim “homophobia” simply because Michael Sam wasn’t picked up by any NFL team.
I subscribe to something I heard REM frontman Michael Stipe say once when asked in the 90s if he was gay. “It’s nobody’s business what I do with my dick, unless they’re sitting in my lap.”
Unless you’re sitting in Michael Sam’s lap, get over yourself.
Maybe, just maybe, part of the reason Sam didn’t make the Rams is because of all the pressure applied to him by these very same people now so upset by him not making the team?
Many people are a fan of Sam because he’s a gay man who happens to play football, when the reality is he’s a football player who happens to be gay. But that reality doesn’t advance the agenda as much as flipping it.