Gay and In The NFL? WTF?!
Yes, you read the headline correctly! If you haven’t heard this breaking news already, earlier this week the American sports world was delivered what many might call a juggernaut, and it had nothing to do with the Winter Olympics going on in Sochi right now, an athlete being caught with or using illegal drugs, or catching a domestic violence case. Not at all! This story revolves around one brave young man named Michael Sam, who has made the decision to stand ‘out’ and be the spokesman for a nation, perhaps the globe. Michael Sam, a student, football player and star defensive end at the University of Missouri, is entering the NFL draft this March and has openly admitted to being gay. He is one hell of a football player, and according to sources close to the University’s athletic department, a very good guy, friend, and teammate. Shouldn’t this be all that really matters? That an individual can offer the talent and skill set to help your team win a championship? Well, not in our society…not today, not yet, anyway. Sure, there have been many other gay and/or lesbian athletes that have been open about their non-conventional (according to modern mainstream society) sexual preferences. What makes this situation so different, however, is the enormously expansive global reach of the National Football League’s brand. American football is close to eclipsing soccer as the most watched sport around the the world. This means that many other cultures and nations will be touched by the acceptance and/or rejection of his openness by other players, coaches, fans, and even distant sports observers. Also, the violent nature of football and it being known as “a man’s man game” since its inception. This is one of the games, along with boxing, extreme fighting, and other violent sports that I’m sure thought it would forever exclude gays. Well, think again!
This is the future of humanity, like it or not. It is the direction toward which we have been headed for centuries, if not millennia. Apparently, Sam shared the news of his sexual orientation with his coaches and teammates earlier during the 2013-2014 football season, and it was well-received with no drama following as far as we know. In fact, he went on to garner All-American and All-SEC honors and was instrumental in leading his team to an incredible 12-2 season and an impressive win in the Cotton Bowl. I give the media and the NFL a lot credit for having done a pretty decent job of exploring this story from many angles, controlling the way this touchy subject has been communicated and commented about so far. I won’t go as far as saying their reasons for making it such a newsworthy topic have not been self-serving to some degree, but this is history in the making and surely worth talking about.
Two points I want to make in this post:
1) All professional football players were once college players. A college football MUST play at least two seasons of college football before becoming eligible to enter the NFL draft. So my thought is that if college teammates (a portion of whom will make up the professional ranks) can accept this about a teammate and still go on to achieve a high level of success in one of the most competitive football conferences in the nation, what is so different about the NFL? Essentially it’s the same players. There is so much for the NFL to learn from the way the University of Missouri.
2) We…meaning (we) humans…are evolving – We have always been evolving. We can’t be completely clear of the beginnings of this evolution, but we can be very clear that it is an ongoing process. All of life is evolving – plants, animals, the make-up of our environment, which forces all else to evolve for survival. All of it is evolving; it always has and seemingly always will. Even the Cosmos itself is continually changing, pushing against itself, expanding and creating greater distance between planetary worlds. Nothing stays the same, nothing! Biblical scholars have it wrong with their interpretation of the scripture, “Jesus (or GOD) is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” This is true, but often misinterpreted. What it really means is that Jesus/GOD is change/evolution and that is what does not change, that is the constant. In other words, the part about the Divine that is the same, is that it is ALWAYS changing, expanding, evolving. Nothing is ever stagnant…nothing!
So truth be told, we all should have seen this coming. The Gay Rights Movement is moving with more momentum than any other movement since the Civil Rights. This fight isn’t quite the same, but it certainly doesn’t lack any fervor. Legislation has taken form to support same sex marriages/families and the lifestyle in general, therefore reshaping the way our society perceives things pertaining to homosexuality. More celebrities are being open about their sexuality; children are being honest with their parents about it at younger and younger ages; movies, television and advertisers have been shining it into our minds through those screens for decades now. So what did we think would eventually happen? And it isn’t like homosexuality hasn’t always been, because it has – it had only been forced to live within the shadows until now. All of these elements together have changed the way in which we view and feel about this topic, which has subsequently created the gateway for it to flow freely and take center stage just as it has. What we are seeing happen before us was unavoidable, and why would we want to avoid anything that is obviously natural for so many. If we are paying close and conscious attention to how this is unfolding, it should cause each of us take very close account of how we view our inner and outer worlds. Like a computer resisting an upgrade, we will either accept the upgrade or become obsolete and irrelevant; those are the choices. Remember, what we resist only persists, and grows stronger and stronger.
In closing, I don’t know if the NFL is ‘ready’ to have openly gay players on its teams and sharing locker rooms with a majority straight players’ roster, but this is where are going, and have been for quite some time now. So they’d better get ready. It’s time for NFL owners, execs, and players to really buckle up those chin straps, because for some it’s going to be a turbulent ride. Kudos and thank you to Michael Sam for his bravery in pushing this envelope forward. I wish you and all gay athletes the greatest level of success and fulfillment or all your hopes, dreams and endeavors. I salute you!
Love Is All There Is…
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