Michael Sam: His Sexuality May Prove Less Important Than Anonymous Fearmongers Suspect

Now that he has made his announcement, let’s get back to football. That’s what we should judge him as in the football world: a football player.

The Big Lead

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Michael Sam is preparing to become the first public openly gay man on an NFL roster. It’s not clear how his stock will be affected. What is clear is this is a major step forward for American professional sports, one that is well overdue.

Sam will not be the gay Jackie Robinson. Thankfully, he will not have to be. Robinson predated the modern Civil Rights movement, and was out in front before broader social forces acted on entrenched views. Sam, unlike many of his closeted predecessors, joins the NFL amidst a sea-change in American culture. His burden, for the most part, will be confined to football.

Seventeen states have already approved gay marriage. Eleven of those did so through popular votes or implied consent in state legislatures. A majority of Americans support gay marriage. Recent polls suggest an approval rating better than 80 percent among individuals under 30. How…

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