February 9, 2014 was an ordinary day for most people across the nation. I’m sure many were sticking to their normal Sunday routine, which for us college students most likely consisted of doing homework, recovering from the weekend and getting mentally prepared for the busy week ahead. However for one individual, this day, this one particular Sunday, was life changing.
This individual’s name is Michael Sam. After completing his successful college football career at the University of Missouri—receiving the titles of All-American, Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the year for the Southeastern Conference, and becoming one of the most highly recognized prospects for the 2014 N.F.L. draft—he publicly stated on February 9, 2014, that he is gay.
“N.F.L. Prospect Michael Sam Proudly Says What Teammates Knew: He’s Gay” is the article written by the New York Times that Sam used to tell his story and to nationally state his homosexuality. Something no other N.F.L. prospect, college football player, or active professional athlete has EVER done. An act that clearly needs to be recognized as heroism and not only the entire nation (in my eyes) should support, but all professional athletic organizations should uphold and deem courageous.
In the video that is attached to the NYTimes article, Sam states,
“I came out to my team this last August. And coming out to them, they rallied around me, they supported me. I knew in that moment that this can happen anywhere. If my team can support me, any team can support me.”
Knowing that it could have potentially unraveled the bond his team had created, jeopardized his play time or entire college football career, Sam stuck true to himself and faced these possibilities with faith in his teammates and came out to them.
“I’m coming out because I want to own my truth. I’m comfortable with who I am and I didn’t want anyone to break a story without me telling it, and I want to tell it the way I want to tell it. Its 2014 and I can’t tell society to agree or not agree with this, but hopefully society will rally around me and support me too.”
Just as he knew the possible destruction coming-out to his teammates could create, Sam knew the potential disaster that nationally coming-out would bring on his future football career as well.
But just as he said, he is comfortable with who he is and wants to own his truth; he does not want to let society hold him back any more than it already has. Being who he truly is, is much more rewarding than being someone he is not, and that makes him a role model not only for the LGBT community, but for everyone.
The N.F.L. is an organization filled with players, coaches, administrators and financiers that strongly do not support gay rights or gender equality, which might make Michael Sam’s coming-out problematic for his career in the N.F.L. Several players have already stated publicly he did the wrong thing and they do not want to play with a gay teammate.
However, those negative comments and supporters cannot hold Michael Sam back. If society’s restraints haven’t held him back thus far, what makes you think those will?
The potential disasters Sam might face are minute in the grand scheme of this life changing event for him. Michael Sam has now opened the doors for future gay professional athletes, given courage to those who currently are gay athletes, and has had overwhelming support from heterosexuals and homosexuals across the nation. Most importantly, he has stood tall and sent the message to ALL gays not to be held back and to face adversity with positivity and bravery.
Right on Michael Sam, you are an inspiration to so many.