Michael Sam should be applauded, but comparisons to Jackie Robinson are outrageous

Like every other reasonable person in the world, I am in full support of gay NFL draft prospect Michael Sam. That’s why this isn’t about him. It’s about those comparing him to Jackie Robinson, which is — in a word — outrageous.

Yes, Sam is breaking a barrier just like Robinson, but the culture in which he is doing it is immeasurably more accepting.

As a gay defensive end prepares to enter the NFL, 17 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized same-sex marriage. When a black second baseman entered the MLB, Martin Luther King Jr. hadn’t even graduated college and Brown v. Board of Education was still eight years away.

 
download-022114
 

I’m not denying that Sam has obstacles in front of him — that’s just ignorant. But I am saying none of these obstacles will include players threatening to go on strike if he plays or constantly getting spiked (or the NFL equivalent) because he’s gay.

It’s been widely reported that Robinson brought the Dodgers’ locker room closer together. Since Sam came out, seemingly the only question being asked is how the locker room will respond to him.

Sam and Robinson share one thing in common: breaking a barrier in sports. What they don’t share, however, heavily outweighs that.

Sam should — and will — be applauded for his courage. But Robinson helped end racial segregation for an entire country. Gay rights already have plenty of momentum; Sam is simply helping sports catch up with the rest of the country.

Reach the sports editor at ewebeck@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @EvanWebeck