Michael Sam was drafted in the 7th Round of the NFL Draft today by the St. Louis Rams. It’s a bad day for homophobic football fans. It’s a bad day for people who wished that sports didn’t exist as cultural institutions. The fact that Michael Sam may not be a spectacular NFL lineman isn’t important. The fact that Michael Sam has broken the silence that exists among gay athletes in the NFL is important.
Read Dave Zirin’s take here:
If Michael Sam’s sexuality being an inhibitor to his draft status is not your starting point for understanding all of this, I believe you’re lost without a compass. This is not to argue that all General Managers in the NFL are homophobic. It’s not about what kinds of prejudice lurks in the hearts of individual executives. It’s about a systemic problem in an NFL that loathes independent thinkers, fears political controversy, and hates “distractions.”
Read Sports Illustrated’s NFL-as-progressive-institution spin here:
As Don Banks wrote from Indianapolis, Sam’s sexuality represents a new threshold for the league, but it won’t be a seismic change.
“I think it’s widely known that every locker room has a number of gay individuals,” Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff said. “Quite honestly, it speaks to the evolution of acceptance in our society. I really believe the NFL is quite evolved. It continues to be very progressive and out on the front end of the curve in many ways, as far as sport and as far as approaches. Our commissioner [Roger Goodell] is out in front of that. We take his lead. This league has been a really good league as far as being open about the next wave, the next generation, whether it’s technology or whether it’s acceptance.”