Story 2014-05-11 3KA LGBT in sports; will Michael Sam be drafted to the NFL?

LGBT in sports; will Michael Sam be drafted to the NFL?

in ask on (#3KA)
Forbes has an interesting article today reminding us about Michael Sam and his prospects for being drafted to the NFL . Michael Sam achieved considerable notoriety several months ago when he came out as a gay football player who happened to be the SEC defensive player of the year and who would become the first openly gay man to star in the NFL if drafted by a team this weekend.

My question for Pipedot: regardless of teams' decisions to draft Sam or not, will the decisions be accepted as based on his skills or football ability alone or will they be judged in terms of their support for or avoidance of support for homosexuality in American football? And, what are the central obstacles to people being judged on skills alone when competing for opportunities (I'm thinking about ageing programmers and so on as similar-type challenges)?
Reply 8 comments

Yes (Score: 2, Informative)

by on 2014-05-11 20:57 (#1GY)

He was drafted by the Rams. Yesterday.

Re: Yes (Score: 1)

by on 2014-05-11 21:30 (#1GZ)

I submitted the story early Friday, but as with the real draft of Sam, it took until the latest possible moment for the story to be promoted. Cheers

Re: Yes (Score: 1)

by on 2014-05-12 16:23 (#1HE)

Yeah, editor fail. Sorry about that. I balked at first, thinking, "is this subject matter really germane to pipedot?" Then it got a couple of upvotes and I figured, "hell with it - let's publish and see what happens." In a better world, we'd have a bigger community upvoting and downvoting new article submissions. In the real world, I try to get stuff published as soon as possible, figuring anyone who took the trouble to post an article deserves to see it in print.

Re: Yes (Score: 2, Interesting)

by on 2014-05-12 20:15 (#1HP)

No worries. I actually thought about posting this story a few days before Friday and hesitated for the same reason (is it germane to Pipedot). Then again, I'm trying to mix up my story postings to see which ones actually generate some conversation and I am trying to not just repeat what is on slashdot and soylent as well, so I figure that justifies thinking outside the box a little bit.

Right now my main motivation is to participate in Pipedot as I hope to see it grow... maybe I will get sufficiently hooked on having all my story submissions pushed to the front page that I will have withdrawal symptoms once the community gets big enough to be choosy.

On topic: I think Michael Sam is going to surprise people with how well he plays in the NFL and teams are going to look back and possibly wish they had taken the initiative ahead of the Rams. Regardless, I am glad one team did draft him because he will get his chance. Now if only someone would bring back Tebow... (just kidding). And, in my opinion, the possible germane-ness of the topic for pipedot was that it is a high profile example of where concerns over human difference can unfairly deny someone a chance to succeed in their preferred profession (like older programmers as I suggest in the original submission).

Re: Yes (Score: 3, Interesting)

by on 2014-05-12 01:01 (#1H0)

The other owners owe the Rams big time. The NFL would've looked plenty bad if Sam had gone undrafted.

Sam was rated as a 4th to 6th round talent (the draft has 7 rounds). In the past, players who had won the award that Sam got (SEC defensive player of the year) have usually been drafted within the first two rounds, but strangely enough, many of them haven't been particularly successful in the NFL - that factored into the '4th to 6th round' projection, along with the fact that Sam is not considered to be a prototypical NFL defensive lineman or linebacker in terms of size, speed, atheleticism, etc.

Still, had he not come out he probably would've been drafted by some team before the 7th round. Why was he not? Because football squads are large, and there's a certain macho mindset that can't be completely controlled, just as in the military which struggles with gay and sexual harassment/assault issues. If the entire coaching staff and 95 percent of the players were fine with having a gay teammate, that 5 percent could still create plenty of trouble that could detract from the team's effort to make the playoffs and then win a championship. And what if Sam turns out to be a bit of a diva, giving interviews in the press about the problems that gays face in football and society? That was too much of a risk for every team in the league except one.

Re: Yes (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-05-12 12:26 (#1H5)

And what if Sam turns out to be a bit of a diva, giving interviews in the press about the problems that gays face in football and society?

How about we stick to interviewing him about his football plays and the game? I don't see the media mentioning sexual orientation when they interview straight players. Nobody straight gets asked if they feel comfortable getting changed or showering in front of 40 other dudes whose testosterone levels are off the charts.

If gays wanted true equality, they'd put a stop to any questioning that brings up their sexuality. They would want to be treated the same way as straight people, by being judged by their merits alone, without sexual orientation clouding said judgement. Instead, most keep the gay card visible when they are judged on their skills or merits, so they can scream "discrimination!" when things don't go their way.

So let's stick to judging Sam's football abilities. How fast can he run 40 yards? How many tackles did he have? How many fumble recoveries? Pick a bunch of stats, compare them to the his team or the NFL average, and you'll get a true measure of a player. Leave the sexual orientation out of it.

Re: Yes (Score: 1)

by on 2014-05-13 18:21 (#1JM)

The problem is that nowadays TV sports reporting (such as I know it, which is a whisker-thin slice - basically only Formula 1) seems to be more concerned about how people *feel* about their victory or second place, and not about the technical aspects of the event itself. They don't want sport for sportos/stattos/fans - they want sport dumbed-down and emotived-up for the huge bottom layer of the pyramid. Blame marketeers. (And you may read into that sentence the obligatory Hicksian "... who should kill themselves".)

So gays have no hope in that jungle. It's going to be "did you carry an extra pack of pink frilly hankies with you, in case a hard tackle made you cry?" all the freaking way, at least on some channels, and it's going to suck for *everyone*.

This is one reason I like sports "personalities" like Kimi Raikkonen (on a keyboard with no diacriticals, pretend they're there, please). If someone asks a stupid question, he'll give the shortest dismissive answer which almost always makes the interview look stupid. And of course, Kimi was a big fan of James Hunt who had his moments too:

Re: Yes (Score: 2, Interesting)

by on 2014-05-12 12:50 (#1H6)

Totally have to agree with you.

This could be great for the NFL *if* Sam gets along well in his career. If he hits any roadblocks or anyone mistreats him, because he's gay or not, it'll boil down to he's gay. I don't want to discount that there are going to be bigots and dickheads who will harass him because he's gay, but really it's not going to matter if that's the real reason or not.

By drafting him the Rams may have delayed people screaming the NFL is discriminatory, for now, but there's no doubt the first time Sam fails to preform or talks about his difficulties adjusting there's going to be ten times the commotion. That said, hopefully I'm wrong and we can take this as an all round victory.