My view of the world through words & photos
Yesterday, I learned on a newscast that Michael Sam, a football player at the University of Missouri, my alma mater, revealed that he is gay. (Sam made his announcement in interviews with ESPN and The New York Times.) Much has been made about the fact that he is a well-qualified, likely high pick in the upcoming National Football League draft. Some have reported that many will be watching to see if his announcement will impact his future in football.
This morning, I read a sports column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, in which the reporter said Sam’s secret wasn’t really a secret, and implies that the university’s athletic department or administration decided to prevent the announcement from being made earlier.
I can’t quite figure out why the reporter feels compelled to respond to Sam’s announcement this way. Nothing seems to support this position – not Sam’s statements or the coach’s statements.
I find the reporter’s statements about how there were “subtle touches” during the season really odd. Looking back he says the fact that Sam wore a rainbow-colored wrist-bands was a clue. Really? Made me think of that time when a public figure announced that a children’s character was gay because it carried a purple purse. Personally, I thought those critters were some of the most asexual characters ever created.
The reporter said many reporters in Missouri knew of Sam’s secret and this was why Sam didn’t do interviews with the media after games during the season. If Sam didn’t do interviews during the season, maybe it was because he wanted the media to focus on the team and not his sexual orientation. Maybe it was because Sam’s private life wasn’t anyone’s business to reveal except Sam.
Whenever stories like this appear – first woman to …, first Hispanic to …, first African-American to… – I think back to a conversation I had with fellow journalism students in our newsroom when we had a story about one of these “firsts” back in the early 80s. The consensus was that we were looking forward to a day in the not too distant future when these stories wouldn’t be stories worthy of coverage in a newscast. Not that the achievements of the individual weren’t worthy, but that we wouldn’t feel compelled to run the story just because the person was a “first.” Sadly, we still haven’t reached that day.
Based on the interviews I’ve seen so far, I’m impressed with this young man and his teammates. Sam and his teammates should be recognized for their mature responses both on and off the field. It’s sad to see a reporter can’t be just as mature in his response.
Then again, maybe it’s just me.