Michael Sam and the debate on gay sport stars

I have been closely following the mass reports about American football prospect Michael Sam, who is eligible for the NFL draft pick this year.

I have been closely following the mass reports about American football prospect Michael Sam, who is eligible for the NFL draft pick this year. Following a highly successful college football career, he was hotly tipped to be a third round pick in the draft. However he has took the huge decision to openly come out and declare that he is gay.

American football does not currently have any active players that are gay and it is a sport that is seen as being played by only the alpha male. Many players in the NFL have said they think it is time for an openly gay player to be playing and representing in the NFL but it is the NFL executives who have been casting figures of doubt over whether now is the time for American football to embrace and accept a gay footballer.

Advantages and Disadvantages for Michael Sam and NFL Franchises 

By openly coming out as gay, Michael Sam has either epically enhanced his chances of being drafted to an NFL franchise, or hugely jeopardised his chances of being picked.

He has already become the most talked about draft pick which is always crucial for a player. This is quite a feat given the media attention Johnny Manziel was receiving when he became a viral star on social media at the end of 2013.

With many people thinking now is the time for NFLs first openly gay player, teams may see this as an ideal opportunity to raise the profile of the team and by drafting a gay player, a team will gain the positive support from people all over the world.

It could even lead to an increase in support from the LGBT community. The mass media coverage the team will also be an added bonus for any team that chooses to draft him. With NFL being the main sport in America and media coverage being worth billions of dollars, teams may see this as a free method of advertising.

On the other hand his decision to openly come out could work against him. Teams may feel that it could provide a lot of negative press with many American football insiders panicking about what a gay footballer could mean to the sport and the negative impact it may have. Some NFL executives have even gone as far as to label him selfish and accuse him of using his sexuality in a bid to improve his chances of being selected. A few pundits have even gone on to say that Sam isn’t as highly rated as people think and that he may struggle to get picked even if he was straight.

Famous athletes that have come out

Homosexuality in sport is nothing new. But what is so interesting about this case is his decision to announce it before being selected by a team or even before becoming an established star in the NFL. 

Tom Daley announced he was gay last year, but this was after being in the public eye for several years and representing Great Britain at 2 different Olympics and winning a medal. 

Thomas Hitzlsperger recently came out as gay after retiring from football, an established player with 52 Germany caps to his name.

Steven Davies became the first openly gay international cricketer when he announced he was gay 8 years after signing his first professional contract.

Whether Michael Sam’s decision to announce he is gay 3 months before the NFL draft turns out to be the right one, is something we will only be able to tell in time. If he does, then I’m sure it will pave the way for many more sporting stars to come out, and not leave it until they have retired or are nearing the end of their career to tell the world they are gay.

What do you think of Sam’s decision? How do you think the sporting world treats gay athletes? Have your say in the comments section below.