Lobbyist Jack Burkman (Rep.) drafted a plan to deploy a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in the National Football League (NFL). It is problematic enough that the government is once again trying to control an entity outside of its jurisdiction, but attempting to assert itself on the issue of gay rights within the NFL is heinous.
In the NFL it is swept under the rug when a player commits vehicular manslaughter, possesses illegal guns, obstructs justice in relation to a murder investigation, screams racial slurs at a concert or kills a number of dogs. But no team wants a gay person on the roster, according to many analysts and news sources. Apparently that is far too much drama for a team to handle.
Michael Sam, an All-American defensive lineman from the University of Missouri, made headlines on Feb. 10 by becoming the first openly gay player to declare for the NFL draft.
But now many question the likelihood of Sam being drafted because of his sexual orientation. His merits as a football player should not be judged by his personal life. Personal life is personal for a reason; how he lives his life will not and does not affect his performance between the lines.
An All-American football player should instead be evaluated based upon the accolades he earned during his collegiate career. However, with one statement made regarding his homosexuality, it is as though he cannot possibly play football at the professional level.
The list of actual illegalities the NFL has allowed its players to get away with and still continue to play far outweighs one man’s private life.
It should not matter if a person is gay, straight, black, white or frankly anything else. What should matter is how well a person catches, throws, tackles or runs. After all, it is a football team, not a reality show or popularity contest. Gay men can win games just as well as straight men.
If Sam had not come out, no one would question his ability to play football; he would likely be drafted just like everyone else and then come out after. It was incredibly brave of him to put his possible career on the line.
His courage brought a larger issue to the forefront: homophobia in sports. Now if he is not drafted, people will have good reason to think it is due to his sexuality rather than his skill set as an athlete. People have instead started talking and looking at the NFL in a justifiably hypocritical light.
Juliet Suess is a senior ECLS major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @WklyJSuess.