Let me start by saying how much I admire Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted by the NFL.
He showed great courage in coming out when he did, he’s handled the media attention with class, and I sincerely hope NFL GM’s get past their squeamishness and give the man a real shot to make a roster this year.
So I’m firmly in Sam’s corner, 100 percent, and think he’s a great role model for young gay athletes.
But I gotta say, I cannot for the life of me understand why, as announced Tuesday, Michael Sam is going to be a castmember on “Dancing With The Stars” this spring.
Since he came out of the closet, Sam has said over and over again that he just wants to be a football player, nothing else. Hell, just last week he wrote this heartfelt essay in Sports Illustrated, talking about his NFL dreams and working out so hard for the chance to be a pro player.
Yet twice now, he’s tried to be something else. First last year before training camp when he’d agreed to let Oprah’s production company do a reality show at Rams training camp (thankfully that was nixed.)
And now, during the NFL offseason when he’s hoping to get signed, he agrees to be on a dancing show that usually stars washed-up TV personalities (Suzanne Somers) or C-list celebrities.
What does that say to an NFL team who wants to sign Sam? To me it says he’s a guy who’s more interested in being famous than making a roster.
I don’t know, maybe Sam has his reasons for doing “Dancing With The Stars.” Maybe they offered him a lot of money, maybe he thinks he can still train for football and practice his samba.
But it just seems so counter-productive to his professed true goal. This show is another obstacle in his way, and Lord knows he doesn’t need any more of those.
**Next up, the great Bill Maher took on one of his (and mine) favorite issues on his show Friday night: The sheer ridiculousness of pot use being criminalized to the extent that thousands of non-violent pot users are in prison right now.
Maher’s jumping off point to this was Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz admitting (gasp!) that they may have toked once or twice.
This is a very funny clip, sure, but it’s ridiculous that we’re still criminalizing people for marijuana use in 2015. Maher’s right: Obama has stepped up on a bunch of issues the past few years, let’s see him and the new A.G. (whenever she finally gets approved) step up on this.
**Finally today, here’s something I’m not sure I’ve seen before in high school sports: Two girls basketball teams, in a district tournament game, both trying really hard to lose on purpose.
Tennessee’s Riverdale High and Smyrna High played a District 7-AAA consolation game last Saturday, with the winner having to face powerhouse Blackman High in the semifinals of the Region 4-AAA playoffs.
Neither team wanted to play Blackman, and the losing team would go to the other side of the bracket and not have to play Blackman until the finals, by which point both Blackman and its opponent would have qualified for the state playoffs.
So given those facts, the coaches from both teams instructed their players to lose on purpose. That’s right, intentionally shoot at the wrong basket, desperately try to make turnovers, take intentional backcourt violations… you name it.
It was a farce, a true embarrassment, and after Smyrna “won” the game, the state athletic association disqualified both teams from further postseason play.
I mean, this is HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS, what kind of values and morals and sportsmanship are you teaching your players when you tell them to miss on purpose?
The great David Climer of the Tennessean newspaper (where I interned in the summer of 1996, and absolutely loved the city of Nashville) wrote a terrific column about this mess.