The video above makes me smile. Simply put, it makes me smile. There was a time when I was much younger, when I had to beg my mother to let me play football, the only sport I’ve ever truly loved, despite my heart problems. After years and years of begging and petitioning, she caved and let me join, in 6th grade, with my younger brother.
In the first practice I ran and ran until finally my lungs gave up and I fell into a fence next to where we were practicing. As I fell into the fence I remember seeing a kid in my class laugh and yell ‘What’s the matter? You can’t finish?’ My mother then came running over, and proceeded to make sure I was okay. I debated quitting that day. But I ended up playing from 6th grade until I was a Freshman in high school. I loved it, and I love it still. It kept me sane, it gave me purpose, it gave me an outlet to put my frustrations and my angers with life - and it taught me a lot about working for what you love. I loved it.
I don’t know what Michael Sam’s experiences were like with football. Though, based on the above video, I think, it’s safe to say that he loves it, an awful lot. So, as a fellow lover, I can understand his joy, and his joy makes me happy. It makes me incredibly happy.
Unfortunately, not everybody sees it that way. See, this is where I bring up this guy who plays for the Miami Dolphins. This intolerant, ignorant asshole--there, I said it, and man did it feel good, because really this guy is an asshole. His name is Don Jones and he plays as a defensive back for the Miami Dolphins. Upon Michael Sam, defensive lineman for the Missouri Tigers being drafted by the St. Louis Rams, this subhuman piece of crap replied to it with the following tweet: “Horrible”.
Why though? Well, you see, Michael happens to be an openly gay man and in the world of professional sports and professional football, homosexuality is seen by some as something wrong and something to fear. As a few years back former Minnesota Vikings kicker, Chris Kluwe, famously defended Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayenbadejo and his support of same-sex marriage after Maryland state delegate Emmett C. Burn Jr. wrote the owner of the Ravens urging him to “inhibit such expressions from your employee”. (In fact, I seriously urge you all to read Kluwe’s article on it, as it’s funny and brilliant and always makes me smile.)
But I digress. You see, in a world where as a culture we’re growing by leaps and bounds and our tolerance of others and their differences and sexual preferences is fast becoming a world of acceptance, there are still small bastions on the map, wherein such trivial things are still seen as such great and damning characteristics. As ‘wrong’, as ‘un-masculine’, as a reason to view someone as ‘less-than’.
And so, Don Jones, defensive back for the Miami Dolphins felt it was okay to spew hatred and ignorance from his Twitter feed, because he sees Michael Sam, the gay man, which he feels as wrong, for misguided and backwards reasonings. He doesn’t see Michael Sam, defensive lineman for the Missouri Tigers, who grew up in the fervent football culture of Texas, who lead his Missouri to one of its best seasons in its history, who sincerely loves football and wants simply to continue playing football and who will be playing professionally for the St. Louis Rams... and who, by the way, happens to be a gay man.
The point of this all being that this man’s sexual preference holds absolutely no barring on the man that he is. It is inconsequential. It is one of the possibly thousands of characteristics of this young man and it is by no means something that he should be ashamed of, or should have to hide or be told is in any way wrong. Or as Don Jones put it, ‘horrible’.
I look at the clip above and I see a young man, his dream finally coming true, his dream he most likely has held in him for many, many years, and finally, now, it is coming to fruition. And so, he is overcome with emotion and joy. It is a beautiful moment, and it makes me happy, and if you have a problem with any of it, well, then I have a problem with you.
Chad Foltz is a musician and filmmaker living in Ohio. You can read his stuff right here on TMS and over at The Projection List. He's a good egg.