Missouri’s Michael Sam may or may not be drafted by an NFL team. He may or may not ever play a down in the NFL. Time will tell how many doors he has helped open to those hiding their sexual preferences from others. One thing we do know is that Sam’s announcement earlier this week has forced athletic directors and football coaches everywhere to take a good hard look at their programs to ensure they would be able to address the situation of having a gay football player in the their program as admirably as Missouri’s football program appears to have done.
Sam opened up to his team in August before the start of the season. Missouri’s football team and coaches came together and showed support for their teammate by not leaking the information to the media or public, which allowed Sam to confirm the news on his own terms. Some players from other programs have said their school would handle it the same way or that Sam would have no problem being in the same locker room as the rest of the team, but the Associated Press learned multiple schools are reviewing their policies to ensure they would have the same kind of environment Missouri created.
“One of the first things I did was go back to our senior staff and say, ‘OK, let’s look at our policy. Let’s make sure we don’t have any issues here,” said Troy AD John Hartwell. “Because at the end of the day, you’re going to have teammates that are of a different race than you are, of a different nationality, of a different economic background, possibly of a different sexual orientation — with a whole variety of beliefs.”
“In today’s society, it’s more of a media (thing) — are you prepared for the media?” TCU Athletics Director Chris Del Conte said. “And if you’re not, let’s give you the tools necessary to help you.”
Sam is not the first gay football player, nor will he be the last. With schools around the country taking the time now to ensure they would be able to properly and respectfully handle having a gay football player in their program, it may not be much longer before another player breaks his silence.