Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Sports

February 24, 2014

With Sam's help, progress will progress

American society isn’t always the quickest to evolve. Sometimes it needs a little push, and occasionally it comes from sports.

While Vladimir Putin’s Russia was bashed for its primitive approach to homosexuality leading up to the Winter Olympics, we in the U.S. still inhabit too much of a glass house to cast many stones.

The reluctance of Indiana and most other states to recognize gays as full-fledged human beings will someday seem asinine to the mass populous, like it currently does to the vast majority of those under 30. In the meantime, it’s a tortoise-speed slog toward equal rights for that estimated 20 percent of our people.

With any luck, progress will be aided by ongoing developments in sports that might help vanquish fear of the gay unknown.

SEC co-defensive player of the year and upcoming NFL draft pick Michael Sam recently came out to the world, and 10 months after doing the same, Jason Collins suited up in an NBA uniform this past Sunday. And while no one will confuse the roads they’ll travel with the one Jackie Robinson endured, theirs are important to the continued advancement of gays everywhere.

While homosexual themes made their way into American television by the early-1980s, major pro sports have remained perceived bastions of straightness, despite the obvious fact that closeted gays have occupied locker rooms since they came into existence.

How many? That’s hard to say. Throughout most of our modern history, most gays have chosen outlets other than team sports because of the treatment they knew they’d subject themselves to. But even if you cut the estimated societal percentage by 75 percent, that still puts an average of 2.65 homosexuals on each NFL active roster.

Because he made his move during the beginning of his career, compared to Collins’ twilight, Sam’s journey will be the more significant. He faces not only the prospect of enlightening fellow players as a whole, but especially those from his own race.

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