A big part of my motivation for writing Summer Boys, Summer Dreams was to try to provide a glimpse of what it’s like to be both a professional athlete and gay in the United States. Here’s a true to life take on the issue that’s just hitting the press in America, one that will be worth following closely as it continues to unfold in the months ahead.
Michael Sam, a defensive lineman for the University of Missouri, has just come out of the closet and announced he’s gay to the world. From all appearances, he’s an excellent football player, the 2013 Southeastern Conference (SEC) Player of the Year. You can read more about him here and here.
What makes this so interesting is that Sam is now available to be drafted by any team in the National Football League (NFL), the pinnacle of professional football in the United States. One obvious question is what effect his decision to come out will have on where he’s drafted and how much he’ll make; the two are definitely linked.
Here’s an initial peek and it doesn’t paint a pretty picture. If you believe this report, Sam will pay a heavy price for his decision to come out.
Of course, we won’t know for sure until the NFL actually holds its draft later this year; and football and baseball are different, moreover. But it’s worth keeping these stories in mind as our own little tale continues to unfold. Ethan’s situation differs from Sam’s. He’s remained in the closet as he’s struggled to make his way to the top.
Whether he’ll be able to keep his secret remains to be seen, but right now we are beginning to see what effect remaining closeted has had on Ethan. In the end, it seems, you pay one way or the other.