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Why does Michael Sam’s sexual orientation matter?

ChrisIt has become more common to be openly gay or lesbian in today’s society. Americans are more accepting of those who are gay, and numerous states have even embraced the concept of gay marriage.

While bigotry toward homosexuality still exists, it is safe to say that this country has been on the steady increase in regards to gay rights. People are starting to understand the absurdity of true love only existing between a man and a woman and realizing that sexual orientation is an uncontrollable biological urge.

For some peculiar reason though, homosexuality that exists in the public light is inspected under a hypothetical microscope. Michael Sam, a  talented NFL draft prospect who played defensive end for the Missouri Tigers, publicly announced that he is gay a couple weeks ago during an exclusive interview with ESPN. He has become the first openly gay NFL prospect, and he has received encouragement, as well as belittlement from peers and strangers.

I personally wonder why sexual orientation is even acknowledged by modern media. Why is it when a prominent figure declares himself/herself as homosexual, the media eats it up like hot cakes? I think a false importance on topics such as sexual orientation is created by the media, and it fuels the fire for bigotry and prejudice.

When Michael Sam first came out to ESPN, it was the headline for days on end. Reactions to the news flooded social media, and news anchors across the country debated Sam’s future in the NFL. Some NFL general managers even released anonymous statements to the press detailing their lack of desire to draft Sam. One assistant coach said, “If you knowingly bring someone in [the locker room] with that sexual orientation, how are the other guys going to deal with it? It’s going to be a huge distraction.” If other players are not willing to accept a gay teammate (which is obviously possible because the Missouri Tiger locker room possessed great team chemistry, regardless of  Sam’s homosexuality) the problem lies within those players, not Sam.

Although not drafting Michael Sam for the sole fact that he is homosexual is blatant discrimination, drafting him will cause a distraction. But, this distraction will be the fault of the media, not Sam’s sexual orientation. NFL teams do not want constant exposure to the media, and drafting  Sam will exponentially increase a team’s media exposure. The false importance of Sam’s homosexuality will draw unnecessary attention to a team, and that can obviously hinder a team’s performance on the field. It’s also noteworthy that homosexuality draws more attention in football than the plague of misbehavior that other football players have carried out. NFL players have been in constant trouble with the law, yet the media covers Sam’s irrelevant sexual orientation like white on rice.

Sam’s sexual orientation should not be a story. We live in the 2014, and homosexuality should not be overblown by the media to create false importance. It is a biological trait that many people possess, and should be treated accordingly.

Chris Chipman is a junior English education major and columnist for The Vidette. Any questions or comments regarding his column can be sent to dv_cdchipm2@ilstu.edu. 

 

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