Undoubtedly the biggest story of this week was the coming out of NFL hopeful Michael Sam prior to the draft.
While the news was met with some pretty awesome support, there were still some examples of the types of neanderthals that have kept the barriers to openly gay players up for this long.
Though the NFL has publicly embraced the prospect of an openly gay player, some reactions from players have been less than stellar.
Having an openly gay player in the NFL will be a tricky journey through uncharted territory, so we pose the question to you, Queerty members: How Can The NFL Make Themselves A Safe Space For Michael Sam And Future Gay Players?
What is he a 6 year old GIRL? The wording of this question makes gay men seem like defenseless victims. Better question: How can Michael Sams make himself strong enough to deal with the aversion he’ll face IF drafted? Answer: He better be a damn good player! That’s the way he’ll get respect and possibly change things. He definitely won’t change anything by acting like a diva that requires special accomodations from the NFL in order to feel safe. It’s the NFL, not GLAAD.
Educate it’s players.
There was a study conducted a while ago that found a strong majority of college athletes to be illiterate. So, if these are the players being drafted by the NFL, it suggests that there is an education problem. Putting it bluntly, they’re ignorant and fostering an antiquated environment through that ignorance. Testosterone and ignorance can be a pretty dangerous thing. I’m sure some of these athletes use the bible to condemn homosexual players.
I’m sure the NFL has a policy to prevent harassment and unfair treatment. Make sure it has “sexual orientation” and take action against any players who exhibit abuse or bias. I suspect he can take care of himself, unlike the players who are already freaking out that a gay guy might look at them in the showers (and point and laugh).
@tardis: If it’s so ignorant/illiterate and antiquated, why do gays want to be part of it so badly?
@Tony Johnston: Hate the player, not the game, literally!! Why do some girls want to play little league baseball instead of softball, Why did African-Americans want to play in MLB instead of the “Negro Leagues”? why do people want to be engineers, wrestlers, astronauts, whatever it is? Football is just like anything else. Sam should have an equal opportunity to play football if he wants to. Here is hoping that Sam is drafted and is allowed to compete and wins a job based on merit.
@Tony Johnston: are you suggesting there are no ignorant and/or illiterate gays? Sometimes it seems like queerty’s editors fit that bill. Lol.
Bullying and harassment is apparently already rampant in the NFL. Education and enforcement of anti bullying policies is what’s needed, but it seems like most just look away as long as players are performing.. The NFL doesn’t seem to be doing a great job of minimizing its players exposure to concussions either. Sam just has to get on a team and be open about any harassment he gets. The media is already starting to paint these players and their coaches as pussies, the more they’re shamed the more they’ll shut up and deal with it.
Of course the fact that the NFL doesn’t hire gay people might be a good way to get its tax exempt non profit status revoked. If congress won’t change the law.
I think having an openly gay player will do a lot, and shut most of the naysayers up. Other than that, educating coaches and teammates (which they have to a minimal degree), and of course other gay players stepping up and coming out to their teammates (which will probably not happen but one can hope) will help with visibility. I think he’ll be fine though.
ANSWER: The NFL can make itself a safe place for gay players by adopting the same zero-tolerance policy for homophobia as it has for racism. Any homophobic language from coaches or players in the locker room will be met by heavy fines and/or suspension. Make it clear that homophobia is a serious transgression and won’t be tolerated.
@alterego1980: Think you misunderstood. I didn’t say he shouldn’t have the opportunity, and my comment was directed at tardis, not Michael Sam. Though if Sam was walking around generalizing the NFL as ignorant and antiquated, I’d probably have the same question for him too.
@Ottoman: Good point about the editors here. haha
@Tony Johnston: Why shouldn’t gays be part of it and be out?
@Ottoman: I like your thoughts on the tax exemption, it’s a heinous situation anyway: the millionaire’s tax-exempt club.
To see how gay players in pro sports works in actuality, look at pro footballers in England. It seems the owners, coaches and referees are the first on board accepting gay players, other players who have cat-called or made derogatory public statements/email/Tweets have been dealt fined and/or sanctioned. Then there are players from other nations and some fans who are anti-gay, who say ugly things. And the game goes on and players keep coming out around the world.
The good news: some (many) people get tired of being on the side of stupid.
@Tony Johnston: I was talking about the players. Not the game.
This might sound too simplistic and naive but :Private Showers in the locker room?
How about focusing on the game and not on who their teammates are sleeping with. It’s none of their business anyway. As for that shower nonsense, do they think their dicks will fall off if Sam looks at them? “Homophobia is the fear that gay men will treat you the way you treat women.”
@tardis: No game without the players. lol
@SteveDenver: I never said they shouldn’t.
@Respect4all: In all fairness, Sam publicly coming out to the press and conducting interviews on his sexuality makes who he’s sleeping with a focal point.
It’s amazing how society is waking up. A few years ago the popular opinion was that out gay people in sports was a huge (ultimate?) taboo, with not the idea of challenging it because even fair-minded people would shrink and become quiet against the force of anti-gay tradition. Suddenly, people everywhere saw that reticence for what it was and seemingly out of nowhere their courage of rationality became a true motivating purpose.
What a wonder the stranglehold of indifference and ignorance have against the idea of equality, which is totally logical and the way it’s supposed to be.
Now its time every all discriminatory industries (film, music etc.) end the ridiculousness of cow-towing to the false principles of hate and antipathy as promoted by infantile and ignorant “faith” driven bigots.
What would help is if more players came out about sexual orientation. There is power in numbers. Sadly, we have too many professional athletes who are still in the closet (particularly in football). While it is nice to see them come out after they retire or move on in life, it is always more meaningful when they come out while still active in the sport.
We have a page on athletes on our site who may be gay but truth be told, there are so few of them out of the closet that all anyone can do is speculate.
The NFL and other professional sports outfits would be smart to embrace GLBTs – they would increase their fan base and frankly, increase their revenue streams. Just saying.
It’s funny that they complain about gay players in the locker room when every Sunday they have dozens of reporters and photographers, male and female, in the same locker room.
@Tony Johnston: Where did I say we should get rid of the players?
All of Mizzou Nation is SO proud of Sam, and happy we could be a part of history. Watching him be a part of our 12-win season was a pure joy. Gonna miss that guy, but hoping to see him in Seahawks blue and green!
Let’s make them all wear tutu’s.
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