Posted By: Spencer Vasey
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have undoubtedly heard the buzz surrounding Michael Sam and this year’s NFL scouting combine. Just two weeks before the start of the combine, Sam, an All-American defensive lineman from Missouri, announced in an interview with ESPN that he is gay. This marks the first time that an openly gay man has entered the combine, and if drafted, Sam will be the first openly gay player in the NFL.
In the two weeks since Sam’s announcement, there has been an inordinate amount of media attention paid to Sam. It is nearly impossible to find an article about the combine that doesn’t mention Sam and his sexuality.
Media outlets have latched on to the story, analyzing Sam’s every move and questioning how his announcement would affect his performance.
This past week, basketball player Jason Collins made history by becoming the first openly gay NBA athlete after he dawned a Brooklyn Nets jersey for a game against the Lakers. His two rebounds and five fouls, which would normally only show up in the fine print of a box score, were front-page news.
The media seems to have become a bit gay-athlete obsessed, but the question is why? Is it empowering to focus on the sexuality of the athlete? Or does it take away from the athlete’s accomplishments if they are constantly identified as a “gay athlete”? Is the media celebrating a shift in the sports world or are they making the divide even larger?