Thursday, May 15, 2014

Let's Get Real

Michael Sam, the gay football player,  is going to be the star of a reality show produced by Oprah for her OWN TV network.  The show will follow Sam's experiences as a late round draft pick for the St. Louis Rams NFL team.  NFL/Oprah.  Now there's a combo I never expected to see in the same sentence.

So far, the official word from Sam has been that he just wants to keep his head down, work hard and concentrate on making the team.  He is not guaranteed a spot.  I don't know how much access Oprah's people will have to the practices, but, in my opinion, none of this amounts to concentrating on football.

And choosing Oprah?  Not ESPN?  Maybe I'm missing something here.

Bill Russell, the iconic basketball star, who is now 80, likens Sam's situation to what black athletes faced in the '60's during the civil rights battles.  Integration didn't come easy.  My all time sports movie "Remember the Titans" is testimony to that.

I think Russell and the others who integrated major sports had it a lot harder than Sam.  I don't remember huge outpourings of support for Russell and his contemporaries.  Not until many years later when their courage was acknowledged and applauded.

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