On May 9th, the St. Louis Rams drafted Michael Sam, the first openly gay player in the National Football League. Sam was selected 249th overall from the University of Missouri.
Sam’s entrance into the world of professional football signals the greater acceptance of the LGBTQ community in North American sporting culture. Sam has had the second best selling jersey by a rookie this year, only behind the man dubbed Mr. Football, Johnny Manziel.
Sam’s reaction to being drafted was broadcast live on ESPN. Right after he was drafted, Sam kissed his boyfriend, Vito Cammisano. A benign gesture amongst heterosexual couples, the action brought vitriol over social media.
Closer to home, Calgary Stampeders receiver Maurice Price tweeted, “My faith won’t let me accept what took place over the weekend. Sorry, not sorry! #AdamAndEve #NotAdamAndAdam.” He was fined an undisclosed amount by the CFL.
The Rams have a history of progressive draft picks. In 1946, the Rams drafted Kenny Washington, the first black person to break the NFL colour barrier. This came a year after Jackie Robinson — the first black person to play in Major League Baseball — was selected to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers.