Michael Sam’s openness about his sexual orientation puts him on the brink of being the first professional football player to be openly gay. He becomes a pioneer of sorts, similar to that of Jackie Robinson, the first openly black man to play in Major League Baseball in the modern era.
While Sam may one day become lauded for his bravery as a homosexual trailblazer, it worries me that football for me may never be the same. When I see Sam at the bottom of a pileup, the only thing I will see is a cup of fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt. I will forever be haunted by the whispers of “taste the rainbow” every time he comes in contact with Seattle running back and Skittles spokesperson, Marshawn Lynch.
But aside from the psychological stalemate that I may experience, I can’t help it but to think about the potential evolution of the game as more players become open about their homosexuality.
I’m not sure that there is a more heterosexually compromising position than that of the center to quarterback exchange. The two-man luge in slow motion, some of the maneuvers in wrestling, even the story in Blades of Glory pale in comparison to the picture of one man standing behind a bent over man while wearing skin-tight leotard capris.
It is a position that Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke attempted at the VMAs. It is the scene that Freddie Mercury and the Village People dream of reenacting. But as disturbing as these images are, or would be, it happens in every football game, usually about 115 times.
Does the increasing popularity of homosexuality mean that the offensive formations are going to evolve more rapidly to accommodate potentially gay centers or quarterbacks? Will we see a league in which offenses perform exclusively out of the shotgun formation? It would seem that it would have to, especially after the unveiling of the Jonathan Martin abuse in recent weeks. Teams will do everything possible to create an atmosphere conducive to making all team members comfortable.
It seems that the strides that teams will make to comply with the Jonathan Martin rule would also necessitate locker room arrangement modifications. The purpose of separate men’s and women’s bathrooms is to provide one with privacy from those who are attracted to the respective plumbing. I’m willing to bet that no straight man will feel comfortable whipping out his wiener at the urinal next to Michael Sam, which completely nullifies the entire purpose having the bathroom in a separate room.
Or what about the play by play commentary? Will they have to change the way they say things and the terms that are used? When Al Michaels says that the quarterback is under center, it now leaves a lot more to the imagination.
It would be a lot more beneficial to the NFL, the teams, and the fans if sexual orientation weren’t even addressed. Teams excluding the New York Jets hate distractions. The NFL hates negative repercussions resonating from controversial topics. The fans want to see Michael Sam hit other players, not hit on other players. The fans want to see him put a a good lick on the running back on the football field, not wonder if he’s doing the same in the locker room. They want to see him blow up a play, not a player.
I just hope that football’s evolution doesn’t become motivated by political correctness. I want to enjoy the game for its chess game strategies, not its sideshow tabloid material.
However, since he will inevitably join a team at some point whether through the draft or free agency, he does have the potential to do something fairly monumental in the eyes of many people. I’m sure they are hoping he doesn’t blow it…or are they?