Monday, February 10, 2014

A Man's Man

By now you've heard that Michael Sam, defensive lineman for the University of Missouri, came out last night. Almost immediately, the NFL responded to Sam's courageous outing with a cowardly display of anonymity and ridiculous gay-bashing tropes.

As for Sam's ability, you can find his stats here.  At 6'2" and 255 lbs., he is a bit small for an NFL's front line, but he's a good size for the defensive backfield, as long as he develops speed and agility.  In any event, I don't have the knowledge to speak more than that on how he might fit on a team's defense.  Rather, I'm far more interested in the whole nonsense about football being a "man's man" sport, as one anonymous NFL official said.

As Michael Sam has demonstrated superior skill as a defensive player, being named SEC defensive player of the year for 2013, he can obviously do the job.  The argument against drafting him all centers on ridiculous ideas about masculinity.  The notion that being gay somehow makes one less "manly" should have been buried long ago.  Alas, among too many it continues to hold some weird sway.  As I don't really subscribe to the whole thing, I'm not even sure what "man's man" means, in this context.  Are these large, muscular, athletic men so fragile in their sense of their own sexual and gender identity that the mere presence of an out gay man threatens them in some ontological way?  Do they fear that he would come on to them?  If he did so, are they afraid they might say yes?  I'm at an utter loss as to what that argument being made means.

Michael Sam is a man's man by most folks' definition.  That he happens to be attracted to other men means absolutely zero.  His teammates at Mizzou certainly couldn't care less.  The idea that being gay makes one less "masculine" in some indefinable way was never really intelligible.  At this point, being trotted out as it is makes its basic silliness all the more apparent.

Good for Michael Sam for doing what he did.  The NFL front-office people are making asses out of themselves, scrambling anonymously to put the kibosh on his dream of playing in the NFL just because he's gay.  What I'm hoping is there is enough of a public outcry that at least one team steps up, drafts him, and gives him a chance.  He has the ability to play some defensive position in the NFL.  He should be given that chance regardless of his sexual orientation.  I think all those men's men in the locker room can handle it.

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