Missouri's Michael Sam, Public Response, and The First Amendment
This shouldn't be a story. It shouldn't be news. No one should care. That's the comments people are leaving on hundreds of news stories across the country. OK, well that is part of what they are saying. Of course if you haven't been following, I am talking about the story of Michael Sam. Sam is the University of Missouri defensive lineman and SEC Defensive Player of the Year who landed himself in the national spotlight after telling ESPN and The New York Times he was openly gay earlier this week.
The comments I mentioned at the beginning of this post are part of the atmosphere surrounding his announcement, however another group of people are leaving similar comments but for a much different reason. They are upset that he is telling anyone he is gay. They are disgusted that the media would tell such a story, and they are not the least bit happy of the idea of an Sam potentially becoming the first openly gay football player if selected in the NFL draft later this May. (Most sports analysts had him slated to be picked somewhere between the third and fifth round prior to his announcement)
So why is this story making my personal website? It has nothing to do with my opinion of discussion on homosexuality, marriage equality, or even Michael Sam's future in football.
After I wrote the story
No, the reason I am setting time aside to share my thoughts is because of the responses I got after the story broke. My cell phone blew up Sunday evening with ESPN, CNN, and USA Today alerts about a former Mizzou player announcing he was gay. Just like any other national news story that originates in the Show-Me-State, I started working with our newsroom at work to make sure we had digital coverage.
As the story grew, I was also asked to share my local version across our more than 45 television and radio stations nationwide. When the link hit station social media accounts as well as my own the comments began. First let me say I am a strong advocate of the First Amendment and have no problem with open discussion. What left me shocked though was several personal messages I got telling me I had no journalistic ethics for publishing such a story and I should know "people like that will never be allowed to play pro football".