My thoughts on the Michael Sam media outburst

Sam finished the 2013 season with 11.5 sacks, eighth most in the country. (Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports)

When NBA player Jason Collins announced that he was gay, the sports world turned upside down. The first ever openly gay professional athlete set the world on fire with his proclamation, and SportsCenter went on and on about the topic. 

Now, it’s all happening again.

NFL prospect Michael Sam came out as being gay, once again sparking the topic of gay athletes, one that will be covered online and on air 24/7. The All-American defensive lineman out of Missouri officially made his announcement on Sunday, becoming the first openly gay NFL player.

First things first, I completely support gay rights – in fact, that is what upsets me about the media attention that results from athletes announcing that they are gay. Homosexuals are human beings just like straight people are. Being attracted to the same sex doesn’t make you any less human than having blonde hair does, so why do people care so much?

I understand that there is obviously going to be some talk because of the challenges Sam may face in the future, but in the end, he’s just like you and me. He has his ups and downs, his highs and lows, his good days and bad days. Seems like a normal guy, right?

It’s completely ridiculous that a coach, manager, or owner of a team would avoid drafting a player because he or she is gay. Especially in the NFL, a league full of so many criminals, a player’s private life should be totally acceptable. While it’s not such a monumental issue as Jackie Robinson becoming the first black athlete to play at a professional level, organizations should welcome the challenge of accepting a gay athlete to their team.

Here’s the sad and unfortunate truth: we live in a world full of limitless judgment. People are so quick to attack people, especially over the internet. All you have to do is sign up for that social media account and let your fingers yell harsh, vulgar words at another person through a comment box. Online warriors throw punches and fire their weapons as they cower behind an anonymous username, spreading the common cold known as hatred.

The gay rights movement has been dominating the news for a while now. As states begin to legalize same-sex marriage, homosexuality is becoming more and more accepted. Often compared to the Civil Rights Movement, homophobia is sadly still prevalent. Just like racism, there will always be people that judge others for who they are.

Now, here’s what irks me about the whirlwind of attention this story has created. Our society has been taught so many things that simply aren’t true. It seems as if our generation has been completely brainwashed.

Unless your parents taught you otherwise, you probably have no problem whatsoever with other races. When you crash on the sofa and turn on the news, you don’t see “Yankees sign Hispanic player.” When the mailman drops off the Sunday paper, the headline doesn’t read “The black Richard Sherman gives wacky post-game interview.” People don’t go crazy over the fact that another human being is of a different race.

Gay people? That’s a different story.

During a 2005 interview about Black History Month, award-winning actor Morgan Freeman said that the idea of it is “ridiculous”. When Mike Wallace, the man interviewing Freeman, asked about how racism will end, this is how Freeman answered the question.

Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man. And I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace. You know me as Morgan Freeman. You’re not going to say, “I know this white guy named Mike Wallace.” Hear what I’m saying?

Basically, the reason why racism has faded away so much is because most people don’t treat those of other races any differently.

This is exactly why homophobia hasn’t budged.

Just like Freeman said about how to extinguish racism, people need to stop treating gays differently from straight people. This is a large reason why people look twice at gay people, why they think of them as being so strange.

Whenever a famous person ‘comes out’, everyone goes nuts. News stations go bananas, ESPN can’t stop blabbering about it, normal citizens are shellshocked. Of course I support Michael Sam, but it’s not because he’s gay; it’s because he’s not afraid to be himself.

When it comes down to it, gay people are still people. They obviously want to be respected, but that doesn’t mean you should treat them differently. For gay rights to truly take a major leap forward, people need to stop overreacting. Always be kind to people, no matter what color skin color they are, who they’re attracted to, or whatever they’re interested in. All people deserve to be loved and treated like human beings.

The media loves a good story, and just like it is so often, it’s a big negative here. There’s absolutely no way that any young kid can look at “BREAKING NEWS: Michael Sam is gay” and not think that someone must be strange there. Whether today’s youth are taught to love or hate gay people, either way they are being taught that it is odd.

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