By Ken Reed
Michael Sam, the SEC’s defensive player of the year, has publicly come out as a gay athlete. The SEC is college football’s premier football conference. Sam is a big-time player. Which means based on talent alone, he should be drafted by an NFL team in the upcoming NFL draft.
Now the question is, what will Sam’s announcement do to his draft stock? Is there a progressive-minded NFL owner, GM or coach willing to draft Sam on his merits as an elite football player? Will an openly gay player be accepted by the NFL?
Because he’s a little undersized for the NFL, Sam was projected to be drafted anywhere from the 3rd to the 6th round of the NFL draft, prior to his announcement. If he now goes undrafted it will be a travesty. He’s clearly talented enough to be an NFL player.
It’s possible he won’t be drafted at all. Consider this less-than-forward piece of thinking from an NFL player personnel evaluator:
“I don’t think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet. In the coming decade or two, it’s going to be acceptable, but at this point in time it’s still a man’s-man game. To call somebody a [gay slur] is still so commonplace. It’d chemically imbalance an NFL locker room and meeting room.”
Can you believe this guy? “Still a man’s-man game … It’d chemically imbalance an NFL locker room …” Unreal.
At any rate, the real story here is Sam’s courageous willingness to be true to himself publicly as the draft and NFL training camps loom. As SportsOnEarth columnist Chuck Culpepper writes, “In his capacity to hurl aside fear, he already does know how to live a life.”
Sam stepped up to squarely face his fears. Now the rest of us, as a society, must do the same. Anxieties must be addressed in the name of positive social change.
Jeb Lund put it brilliantly when he wrote, “[T]he big problem of recoiling from change, to spare the people who enjoy things as they are from feeling anxious, is that it privileges people frightened of the future over people with legitimate reason to be frightened over the present. It nurtures and protects ignorance and/or unfamiliarity as something vulnerable and worth preserving, rather than challenging those attitudes and nurturing groups at real risk of violence, social stigma and political impotence. It infantilizes us and lets us believe that hiding under the covers in the dark rather than reaching for the light is the reasonable corrective for a belief in monsters. It takes pains to keep those who enjoy the status quo from enduring any, and in exchange it tells people already marginalized by or ostracized from parts of society that it is for their own good to remain out in the cold.”
–Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #14 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Making Sense of the Injury Pandemic in Major League Baseball – The guest is Gary McCoy, a strength, conditioning and high performance coach who has worked with several Major League Baseball organizations. Our focus is the injury pandemic in baseball, what’s causing it and how it can be fixed.
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Episode #13 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Conversation With Long-Time MLB Exec Dan Evans About What’s Right With Baseball and What Could Be Better – Evans is a former general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is currently a consultant for Go the Distance Baseball, which owns the Field of Dreams movie site.
Episode #12 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Fun Chat With Dan Gutman, Author of the Baseball Card Adventure Series for Kids
Episode #11 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Latest on Brain Trauma, Concussions and CTE with Dr. Chris Nowinski – Nowinski is CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation.
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO.
Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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