Michael Sam will be doing a documentary (some have called it a reality show) on the topic of his being the first out gay player to be drafted into the NFL. A lot of people are outraged, and I can understand the outrage. There’s an inherently artificial quality to “reality” TV, and signing up to do this piece makes Sam somewhat complicit in being a distraction. Before, the distraction was entirely due to bigotry. Michael Sam was a distraction because there were people who thought he should be banned from the NFL just for being gay.
Now Michael Sam is a distraction, in part, because he signed up to be one.
Michael Sam was drafted at the tail end of the NFL draft to play a position on a team that is tremendously deep at that position. Seventh round draft picks typically do not make the NFL, particularly when their team is already loaded at their position.
The NFL’s CBA may prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but that only matters if a team is stupid enough to have evidence that they cut a player for being gay. The St. Louis Rams could just as easily say a fringe player chosen late in the draft simply wasn’t good enough and very few would call them on it. Michael Sam’s employment prospects elsewhere…
Well, let’s just say they’re tenuous at best.
There’s no doubt that willingly signing up to do a reality show (or documentary) is a “Me” move. But given that half the country’s response to Michael Sam’s sheer existence is a “Fuck You” move, I can hardly blame him for it.