For the last 24 hours, the sports world has been consumed with the announcement from former Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Michael Sam that he’s gay. Sam won the SEC Defensive Player of the Year award and is projected to be the first gay player to be in the NFL, granted he’s taken in the April NFL Draft.
Less than a year ago, NBA center Jason Collins also revealed he’s gay and now many around baseball wonder when a player will come out. Asked by Ken Gurnick of Dodgers.com, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he expects it to happen soon:
I’m sure we will, Mattingly said. I thought it was interesting. It seems like it’s the right time. It seems like everybody’s ready for it.
Fox Sports national writer Ken Rosenthal polled a group of MLB executives that all said they’d sign a gay player. Sam’s revelation has many in the football world talking about whether or not he’ll be drafted since he was projected to be a third-fifth round pick before he made his announcement last night. People have used the word “baggage” or “distraction” in selecting Sam, which could be the same sentiment other MLB executives feel if and when a baseball player comes out.
The Dodgers were apart of one groundbreaking breakthrough, the color barrier, when Jackie Robinson signed with their minor league affiliate, the Montreal Royals. ESPN writer Buster Olney drew the parallels between the two, as Sam will face discrimination at the outset if he’s drafted while Robinson dealt with racism since he was the first African-American to play in the big leagues.
There will come a time when an athlete’s sexual orientation isn’t a story, but to be the first, will make headlines. Whether it happens in the next week, month or year, Mattingly and other MLB executives appear to be ready to sign an openly gay player.
ICYMI: The Dodgers and Justin Turner agreed to a one-year deal