What really matters in football

By Richard Nelson

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February 11, 2014

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Yesterday's news cycle was abuzz with very important information about a college football player about to enter the NFL draft. If  you thought it might be a phoenomenal rise in draft projections due to some superhuman strength or technique found in the offseason, you'd be wrong. The most important thing that has lit up the twitterverse, and bombarded the  blogosphere is that this player is, drumroll please….openly homosexual. Yes that's rights, it is now very important that the rest of the world need to know this. That's why the media spent so much time talking about it.

Michael Sam, an All-American defensive end who played for Missouri, publicly acknowledged in an interview on Sunday that he is gay. "I am an openly, proud gay man," he said. Upon hearing the news that Sam was the number one pick in the NFL draft, students in Columbia bars erupted in cheers. Wait, it was actually the news that he publicly came out of the closet that elicited such inexplicable joy. One wonders if they would have cheered the same if Sam came out to announce he was straight?

Sam led the SEC in tackles for a loss (19) and sacks (11.5). He's no doubt a force to be reckoned with on the field but why his private sexual inclinations should be dragged into the public and talked about for so long remains questionable. In Sam's words "It's a big deal. No one has done this before. And it's kind of a nervous process, but I know what I want to be … I want to be a football player in the NFL."

OK, so if you want to be a football player in the NFL, then why not focus on, um, football skills and techniques?  Maybe we are way out in left field, but why not  simply spend time on the things you do on the football field? One more question:  does the average spectator really need to know the most personal details about an athlete's sex life?

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Director, Commonwealth Policy Center