By Michael Miller
In the last couple weeks there has been a media frenzy regarding the sexual preference of a football star from the University of Missouri, who is hoping to be drafted in the upcoming NFL draft. The All-American defensive end, Michael Sam, came out to the world stating he was gay. The media has been having a “field day” with the story and have been asking questions to various athletes in the NFL and other public figures as to their reactions. Players, coaches, general managers, and media have all had their opinion on the situation and for some, the feedback has been positive. However with that said there has also been negative feedback, some alluding to how potential players would feel who might have to play along side him and share a locker room.
Football is a sport that is all about being strong, fast and competitive. Some may say you need a killer instinct, all characteristics that we stereotype as the alpha male of our society. It is a sport of gladiators, where the players fit a certain mold of what the sport says is required to be a good/professional player, unfortunately when someone who doesn’t fit this mold, people may have a difficult time adapting to the changes. The turn of the 20th century society became obsessed with men’s competitive sports, possibly due to the fact that our society during this period was worried that the boys were becoming soft (Kian et al, 2013).
Football, and other sports, has had many changes that have occurred in the past, which has resolved its self in the end resulting in people becoming accepting of those changes (i.e. African males playing with Caucasian males). Will this result in the same thing for gay men in professional football? Will players be excepting of having a gay teammate in the locker room?
In Kian et al, 2013 research there was an interview by a reporter in his late 40s about gay man in football. The reporter stated it may be stereotypes but he just can’t see too many gay men playing football, that football players are big, strong, barbaric men and that he believed that we would see gay men in sports, but would never see a gay man in football while he is alive. Views such as this one may be what is going to hinder gay athletes acceptance in the football as our society deems football for the straight alpha man and that it is going to be a struggle for gay men to be excepted. The reason from as far as I can gather is that society is set in their ways regarding thoughts pertaining to your sexual preference. Gay men, are typically seen someone who “takes on” more female characteristics. Our society tends to look at female characteristics as fragile and/or emotional – which are two characteristics that are not typically seen in the sport of football.
In my opinion and as a person who has played football my whole life I don’t know why someone’s sexual preference should interfere with his or her ability to play football. If someone is a strong player why should they be considered to be not a good fit for an organization because they may be a distraction? This has been the theme in a lot of the responses toward Michael Sam. If a player is an exceptional athlete and teammate and he is going to benefit your team’s success then why not want him on the team?
Kian, E., Anderson, E., Vincent, J., and Murray, R. (2013) Sport journalists’ views on gay men in sport, society and within sport mediaInternational Review for the Sociology of Sport, (ahead of print), 1-17.