Michael Sam’s Coming Out: 10 Key Points of the Story

Missouri football star Michael Sam came out as gay yesterday, confirming for the world what friends, family and an ever-growing number of reporters already knew. Since he’s likely to be drafted into the NFL this year (or, at least, he was), Sam could soon become the first openly gay player ever in the NFL — or, really, even in any of the major American team sports. It’s a great story, for lots of reasons. Here are a few.

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Yep, he’s gay: Missouri football star Mike Sam

1. It broke online, at least it did for me. I found out about it on Twitter. I’d never heard of Sam. By the time I Googled him, the story had blown up, and I watched the ESPN interview at least an hour before it aired on TV.

2. He’s young, Part 1. A handful of former pro athletes in the Big Four (baseball, football, basketball, hockey) have come out – after their careers were over. Sam’s hasn’t even started yet.

3. He’s young, Part 2. Polls have shown for years that anti-gay bias persists largely along generational lines. To state it broadly, younger folks are far less likely to care if someone’s gay than their grandparents or even parents.

4. Team unity. When Sam came out to his University of Missouri teammates before the last season started, they all stood behind him throughout a wildly successful year. But some older folks inside the NFL fretted to si.com (which shamefully let them go unnamed) that the league still “isn’t ready.”

5. He’s a star, a top NFL draft prospect —  SEC defensive player of the year. ‘Nuff said.

6. He’s masculine — SEC defensive player of the year. ‘Nuff said

7. He seems like a nice kid. No one’s going to call him a thug, that’s for sure.

8. He clearly got some good media coaching but still came off authentic with ESPN’s Chris Connelly.

9. The Putin Factor. Nice that this happened during anti-gay Russia’s Olympics.

10. The “Duh” Factor. There have always been gays in sports, even the NFL. Some of them have started coming out recently, notably NBA journeyman Jason Collins last year, who wasn’t picked up for this season. Whatever happens next with Sam, he – and his great many supporters – have pushed the story forward, the only direction it can go. And so far, the reaction has been mostly supportive or muted.

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5 thoughts on “Michael Sam’s Coming Out: 10 Key Points of the Story

      1. tom

        I am not suggesting. It is NOT a story. who cares? Can he play football. Also I for one resent the implication that anybody who for religious or other reasons do not elevate homosexuality above heterosexuality are some how some kind of cretins. Nobody is inherently right.

        Consequently this should be assigned exactly what it is worth.

  1. Jay Croft Post author

    Hi, Tom — You raise a couple of good points — that it shouldn’t matter and that people aren’t necessarily bad if they don’t support everything gay. But even though we might WISH this isn’t a story, it very clearly is, for many reasons I think. For one, there’s never been an openly gay player in the NFL, Major League Baseball, National Hockey League or National Basketball Assocation. (I don’t count Jason Collins, who came out at the end of his NBA career.) So here is this young man putting himself forward in a way that no one else ever has. That alone makes it a story. I’m not saying it means “gays are good, and anybody who disagrees is bad.” I’m saying it’s a story. I honestly don’t know how you can say it’s not. Believe me, I wish it weren’t.

  2. tom

    The story may turn out that he is slow and undersized for the next level. But you all have given him his 15 minutes of fame. I have had enough of the in your face coverage and the age bias that us old folks are out of touch.


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