As more and more collegiate and professional athletes come out as gay to the media and not just their family, friends, and teammates, a change in the way society views these individuals are continuing to change as well. For as long as I can remember as a child, being a good athlete and being gay were not things that were both possible. I didn’t know any gay athletes and didn’t watch any on television. So what point am I trying to make? The fact that there were no gay athletes out as gay when I was a young boy didn’t mean that there were no gay athletes, it’s just that the times and era we lived in didn’t allow them to comfortably come out. In my twenty years of being alive, a huge change in the perception of homosexuals have changed and will continue to change in a positive manor. These athletes have not just helped themselves live a better life by coming out, they have paved the way for more and more people to express who they truly are, and thus, allowing others to accept more and more types of people.
Words such as heroes, inspirational, and life-changing are thrown around all the time when people speak about people like Michael Sam ( The first openly gay athlete in the NFL), Brittany Griner ( Openly gay female basketball player in the WNBA), Jason Collins ( Openly gay NBA basketball player), and many others. These people are viewed in such a high light by the community at large for being so courageous in being true to themselves. On the field, court, or pitch, words such as “fag”,”wuss”,”bitch”, and “gay” are thrown around in a derogatory way to demoralize or verbally assault an opponent. To many, because of the culture we’ve adapted to, these words do not mean much. On the other hand, to a gay man or woman, these words are hurtful and mean. Actions like these are reasons why so many homosexuals refuse to come out because they are scared to be teased and made fun of by peers. Our biggest influences in life are the people we interact with on a daily basis.
In addition to this movement of honesty and being true to yourself helping the world of sports, the more people who continue to come out whether it be gay, bisexual, asexual, or any other form of sexuality will force lawmakers in the future to adjust the way things are done. During the civil rights movement many people saw blacks as inferior and worse than white people. As time went on, laws, rules, and societies views changed to what we as a collective country viewed to be right. Opinions are meant to be changed based on facts and information. Marriage laws are the next step in getting closer to achieving equality when it comes to financial and governmental benefits.
Not all is positive however when it comes to homosexuals in sports. On television and online, report after report is made about this gay athlete or that gay athlete which never stops. These media members, such as the ones who work for ESPN constantly talk about and critique all that happens with and around the gay player. Many reports came out that teammates of Michael Sam felt uncomfortable in the locker room and because of it, hindered the team dynamic. All of his teammates immediately spoke up and said that none of these statements were true and that everyone was over the fact that Michael was gay and the media members were the only people who still cared. To the athletes, football was what mattered, not sexual orientation. The media wanted to blow up the story in order to get views and people watching their shows but were only hurting the images of Michael and his teammates. In order to truly accept people for who they are, selfish, financial goals need to go behind making the world a better place.
Another example of Michael Sam’s sexual orientation making things tougher on him was during the NFL draft. Sam, the SEC defensive player of the year, who led the league in sacks was a projected 4th or 5th round draft pick before the news broke that he was gay. Inevitably to some, but not others, Sam fell to the 7th round of the NFL draft ( the 7th round is the final round of the draft). Some say that he fell not because he was gay but because he would cause a distraction to the team. Coaches wanted their players focused on the game, not the media and all the attention he would receive. Others say his slower than expected speed at the NFL combine made him a lower pick. Regardless of the reasons, Michael was still picked one or two rounds lower than predicted which probably cost him more money.
All statements above are examples of some positive and some negative things still affecting homosexuals in the United States, and although much progress has been made, not nearly enough has been done to make everyone feel comfortable in their own skin. These men and women do not choose to be the way they are, and have no control over who they are. All they ask is to be accepted just like everyone else in the world.