In this country, the tenor of what’s acceptable in society is often reflected in the worlds of sport and entertainment. At the end of the season in April 2013, Jason Collins of the NBA revealed that he is gay. A few months later in June, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional, making it possible for same-sex couples to marry. Of course, Collins coming out had nothing to do with that legal reversal. But, perhaps his courage to come out had something to do with how much the country has changed that he even felt comfortable to do so. Some would argue that because he is closer to the end of his career that he didn’t have much to lose in financial terms, so coming out for him wasn’t a big issue. At the beginning of the 2013-14 NBA season, Collins wasn’t signed to a team. It seemed that maybe he had made a mistake. Then, here comes Michael Sams.
Michael Sams, the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year (the SEC is deemed the best conference in college football), announces to the world that he is gay. He does this as he prepares to enter the 2014 NFL Draft. Unlike Collins, Sams has everything to lose financially. It could determine how high he goes in the draft which directly determines his contract salary. Today, the NFL is America’s favorite pastime, not baseball. Assuming that he is indeed drafted, whether or not he is accepted in his locker room and in stadiums across the country, may allow us to see just how far this country has come in tolerating differences. Now, I’m not even so naïve to think that he won’t experience some rejection. But will it rise to the level of what Jackie Robinson had to endure to integrate baseball? That is the question.