Since Michael Sam came out earlier this week, there has been no shortage of commentary about whether the NFL is ready for an openly gay player, but one local news anchor has had enough.
In his show this week, ABC anchor Dale Hansen embarked on a two minute monologue saying that, though he occasionally finds himself lost with how to deal with someone coming out to him, there is absolutely no reason why Michael Sam or any other gay player should ever be excluded from sports teams on the basis of their sexuality. What’s more, Hansen highlighted the hypocrisy in players and NFL coaches saying they have concerns over whether the other players will be “comfortable” with a gay teammate when the NFL has allowed men with (sometimes violent) criminal histories into team locker rooms.
Watch the video below:
In a follow-up interview with Dot 429 magazine, Hansen said that he’s been surprised by the positive reactions he’s received since the monologue was broadcast, saying:
What has really shocked me, especially in Texas, is the overwhelming positive response Iíve gotten. Iíve gotten responses from 50 and 60 year old men identifying as white and conservative and yet they believe in equality for gays. That they support Michael Samís right to play in the NFL based on athletic abilities rather than sexual orientation.
The interview also sees Hansen further explore why he chose to pursue the monologue and why he felt so strongly about this issue.
Unfortunately, not all reactions to Michael Sam’s coming out have been so positive. Sam’s own father is quoted in the press as saying that on hearing the news, “I couldnít eat no more, so I went to Applebeeís to have drinks. I donít want my grandkids raised in that kind of environment…Iím old-school. Iím a man and a woman type of guy.”
Sports Illustrated has also come under fire for its having followed up Sam’s coming out by interviewing several unnamed sources from behind the scenes in the NFL who were all too willing to speculate on how Sam’s prospects in the NFL had now plummeted:
“I don’t think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet,” said an NFL player personnel assistant. “In the coming decade or two, it’s going to be acceptable, but at this point in time it’s still a man’s-man game. To call somebody a [gay slur] is still so commonplace. It’d chemically imbalance an NFL locker room and meeting room.”
All the NFL personnel members interviewed believed that Sam’s announcement will cause him to drop in the draft. He was projected between the third and seventh rounds prior to the announcement. The question is: How far will he fall?
“I just know with this going on this is going to drop him down,” said a veteran NFL scout. “There’s no question about it. It’s human nature. Do you want to be the team to quote-unquote ‘break that barrier?’”
This couldn’t be in starker contrast to the majority of reactions that Sam has received.
The New Civil Rights Movement has captured some Twitter highlights, including one from senator Jeff Merkely who tweeted “Michael Sam shouldn’t face discrimination in employment because of who he is, nor should anyone else.†#PassENDA.” Others have speculated the legal ramifications if the NFL does pass on Sam.
The NFL does have a nondiscrimination policy and it is sexual orientation inclusive, as is the Collective Bargaining Agreement struck between the league and players. One clause reads:
“There will be no discrimination in any form against any player by the NFL, the Management Council, any Club or by the NFLPA because of race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or activity or lack of activity on behalf of the NFLPA.”
Come September the NFL really might have its first openly gay player but, whatever the outcome of this current draft pick, Sam’s deft move of coming out before he enters the ranks of active players has forced the NFL to finally confront the latent homophobia within its ranks, setting the stage for more closeted gay players to finally come out.
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