Open Sports Thread: “Sam Agonistes”

Deadspin reprints Christopher Glazek’s piece from Out Magazine:

Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL, is a big fucking deal. This fact alarms many people — not least Sam himself, who mistrusts the media and who expressed skepticism, the day I met him in New York, that his coming out was really an act of courage, as nearly everyone has proclaimed…

The first 15 minutes of the interview were excruciating. Sam refused to make eye contact with me. His answers were curt & nonrevealing. What was college like? “It’s a normal school.” How did you like living in Columbia, Mo.? “It’s a normal town.” He delivered his responses as rebuttals, swatting away my questions as if blocking kicks from a tedious adversary… I was starting to understand why he won defensive player of the year. The only information he volunteered was that he felt annoyed that the photo shoot had run over and thrown off his schedule. “I don’t like when the plan changes,” he huffed.

Desperate to turn things around, I started talking about myself and mentioned visiting a boyfriend in upstate New York. Suddenly Sam’s head perked up; for the first time, he looked me in the eyes. “Wait—you’re gay?” I wasn’t sure how this could have been unclear. “Uh, yes,” I replied, wondering how he was going to take the news. “Oh!” he blurted, his voice rising five octaves. “And Aaron [Hicklin, Out‘s editor in chief]? Is he gay, too?” I nodded. His face melted into a smile; he inched his chair closer to the table and loosened the furrow in his brow. “I thought you guys were straight! That’s why I was giving you a hard time.” His eyes, which had glared with impermeability all through the shoot, suddenly started to radiate warmth and comradeship. Sam’s metamorphosis was so sudden and cartoonish, it suggested how much energy he was having to expend to protect his sexual orientation from people he feared would use it against him…

Over the past four months, as Sam’s fortunes have swung from the giddiest highs to the most deflating lows, he has been freighted with inordinate expectations from all quarters. To satisfy his skeptics, he has had to clear an ever-expanding set of personal and professional hurdles: In effect, he has had to walk prouder, play harder, earn less, and allow himself to be fumbled around as the media’s football in a way unknown to the vast majority of his comparatively anonymous peers.

Sam’s supporters have been nearly as unreasonable…

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95 replies
  1. 1
    BGinCHI says:

    If I watch any NFL this fall it will be to see him play.

    OK, maybe I’ll watch the Packers thrash the Bears.

  2. 2
    BGinCHI says:

    I was also thinking about getting this t-shirt made:

    I’m Not Gay But My

    Favorite NFL Player Is

  3. 3
    Baud says:

    Did Sam not know what Out magazine was about?

  4. 4
    BGinCHI says:

    @Baud: Lindsey Graham only reads it for the articles.

  5. 5
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Sam sacked ESPN’s object of slavering worship Manziel.

    For this reason alone, he’s a hero.

  6. 6
    MomSense says:

    @BGinCHI:

    I would buy that t-shirt!

  7. 7
    Baud says:

    @BGinCHI:

    Drew Brees is gay?!

  8. 8
    BGinCHI says:

    @Baud: I like Drew but he’s not my favorite….

  9. 9
    Keith G says:

    Desperate to turn things around, I started talking about myself and mentioned visiting a boyfriend in upstate New York. Suddenly Sam’s head perked up; for the first time, he looked me in the eyes. “Wait—you’re gay?” I wasn’t sure how this could have been unclear. “Uh, yes,” I replied,

    Wait. Sam didn’t suss out that a reporting team from OUT Magazine would be two Gay folks. Maybe it’s true what they say of linebackers.

  10. 10
    Baud says:

    @Keith G:

    He’s perfect for the NFL! #kidding

  11. 11
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @BGinCHI: @Baud: Aaron Rodgers is dating Olivia Munn, so, unless she’s a beard (an odd term for so attractive a woman)….

  12. 12
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Keith G: Sam’s gaydar was probably in for repairs that day.

    “Ah! Here’s the problem! Musical theater detector is malfunctioning!”

  13. 13
    BGinCHI says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): I knew I liked him. He might be my new second-favorite (I don’t want to have to get a new t-shirt).

  14. 14
    BGinCHI says:

    @Keith G: “Maybe he had just never met another gay guy before.”

    /David Gregory’s first thought

  15. 15
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Baud:

    Did Sam not know what Out magazine was about?

    Not a lot of that there “gay culture” at Mizzou, I’m guessing. Kid’s still on the learning curve!

  16. 16
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Baud:

    I’m guessing not a lot of college students read Out. Maybe it’s me.

  17. 17
    Baud says:

    @Anne Laurie: @Mnemosyne:

    I’m now looking forward to seeing how his interview with Boy’s Life goes.

  18. 18
    tjm65 says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): I would consider donating all kinds of organs/tissue to medical research to be her boyfriend….and I’m married!!

  19. 19
    Dog On Porch says:

    That’s a lot of words devoted to a guy that hasn’t made the final cut yet.

  20. 20
    Iowa Old Lady says:

    Oh hey, I knew Christopher Glazek when he was a little kid! His mother and I were good friends. He’s doing great work now.

  21. 21
    Baud says:

    @Iowa Old Lady:

    Apparently, he’s gay.

  22. 22
    BGinCHI says:

    @Baud: Hence, no longer in Iowa.

  23. 23
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @BGinCHI: In case you didn’t see this, I thought I’d throw it up again.

    http://www.balloon-juice.com/2.....nt-5097978

    :-)

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  24. 24
    Comrade Scrutinizer says:

    Today in sports:

    A crew member working on a taping of “Cops” was inadvertently shot and killed by a police officer during a robbery in Omaha, Nebraska, local officials said Wednesday.
    Bryce Dion, an audio technician, is believed to be the first member of the “Cops” production staff killed in the 25-year history of the television show.

  25. 25
    BGinCHI says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet: I didn’t!

    Thanks for your interest and happy reading.

  26. 26
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Comrade Scrutinizer: I’m surprised that hasn’t happened before

  27. 27
    Comrade Scrutinizer says:

    @SatanicPanic: Gotta keep that tree watered.

  28. 28
    WereBear says:

    Hey, man’s been busy.

  29. 29
    Violet says:

    @BGinCHI: Read somewhere that Michael Sam’s jersey’s are the among the best selling jerseys for the NFL right now.

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Sam sacked ESPN’s object of slavering worship Manziel.

    For this reason alone, he’s a hero.

    Thing of beauty, that was. Sam doing Manziel’s “money” sign afterward was icing on the cake. I hope everyone who sacks Manziel does that. Heh.

  30. 30
    Iowa Old Lady says:

    @Baud: No! The guy writing for OUT? You shock me.

    @BGinCHI: This was back when we lived in the Detroit area.

  31. 31
    BGinCHI says:

    @Iowa Old Lady: Detroit Old Lady sounds a lot more badass and bluesy.

  32. 32
    Pogonip says:

    I thought Out was the mountain-climbing magazine that John Krakauer used to write for? Maybe the football player did too? Although there are probably gay men climbing mountains.

  33. 33
    Keith G says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    Not a lot of that there “gay culture” at Mizzou, I’m guessing. Kid’s still on the learning curve!

    That’s a good part of Gay media’s prime audience – the not so out folks in backwater locals. Once out and about, there really isn’t much need.

    I don’t think I have ever known any out guys who bothered with OUT.

  34. 34
    Violet says:

    @Pogonip: You’re thinking of Outside.

  35. 35
    Pogonip says:

    @Violet: Well, I don’t read either of them, maybe Sam doesn’t either.

    How’s your bite? Did you file a police report?

  36. 36
    Keith G says:

    @Pogonip:

    Although there are probably gay men climbing mountains.

    They are called ‘Tops’.

  37. 37
    Violet says:

    @Pogonip: I’ve got a big bruise and it’s still sore but it’s getting better. No I didn’t file a police report. I talked to the owners over the weekend and saw their dog’s vet records. Everything is up to date. They are good pet owners. They’ve also modified the fence so the dog can’t bite anyone through it again. Since the skin wasn’t broken I decided watch-and-wait was the best course of action. I’ve had no sign of infection and outside of the ugly bruise it’s healing fine. You can hardly see the scratches anymore.

  38. 38

    @Anne Laurie: And there is indeed a learning curve. The early 20’s in particular are a confusing time for most of us, it’s not super fair that some of us have to navigate the minefield of “being gay” without a map or metal detector to boot.

    I understand it’s especially annoying if you’re black, too… which I suppose could be said for many things in this great country of ours.

  39. 39
  40. 40
    Hal says:

    A facebook friend had a little rant a couple of weeks ago about Sam and the fact that he really like, totally doesn’t care whether a person is gay or not, so why couldn’t he just keep it to himself? He has gay friends and they have never made a point to talk about their lifestyle to him, so why does it matter?

    I see this type of reaction everywhere and it drives me insane. If the personal lives of your favorite NFL player don’t matter then why do I know all about Tom Brady and Giselle Bundchen, or any other number of straight athletes? I made the point that Sam being openly gay could make the difference in the lives of gay kids who might feel alone or ostracized but that didn’t seem to have any impact.

    It’s the same for politicians. I have the right to know about the personal lives of every straight politician running for office, but himbo Aaron Shock’s personal life is off limits. I think much of the stress from certain numbers of straight sports fans is the fear they might find themselves lingering too long on Michael Sam’s backside and magically turn gay.

    Like this kid:

    http://extrafabulouscomics.com/comic/160/

  41. 41
    Mike J says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    Not a lot of that there “gay culture” at Mizzou, I’m guessing.

    Bwahahahahahahahahah!

  42. 42
    JPL says:

    I’m watching Chris Hayes and he is talking to the owner of the shooting range in AZ. So the guy who let the little girl kill the instructor in AZ, prayed to god and he wants to let you know that he does birthday parties for kids and it’s what he does. It’s a large capital investment. He is going to do some counseling and he’s talking to the NRA to help. omg.. it’s just getting worse.

  43. 43

    After that “kiss seen ’round the world” moment when he was drafted all my friends were like “that twink’s getting railed tonight.”

    And I was like “who said Sam’s a top?”

    And it was like minds blown

    I mean he probably is though?

  44. 44
    Roger Moore says:

    @Hal:
    I think a lot of people can’t see the double standard from inside it. When a straight person talks about their personal life, that’s normal. When a gay person talks about their personal life, they’re trying to push their deviant lifestyle on the rest of us. Maybe your Facebook friend doesn’t put it quite that way, but that’s the basic point. It’s the same double standard that says a gay judge has to recuse himself from ruling on marriage equality because he’s biased, but a straight judge doesn’t, even though the argument against equality is that gay marriage somehow undermines straight marriages.

  45. 45
    Violet says:

    @Hal:

    I think much of the stress from certain numbers of straight sports fans is the fear they might find themselves lingering too long on Michael Sam’s backside and magically turn gay.

    Yeah. I think the freaking out about gay people is a serious tell.

  46. 46
    Suffern ACE says:

    I agree with ESPN. This what goes on in the showers stays in the showers secrecy code is a sham. I’ve found that many people want to know and ESPN is channeling that demand. I’m expecting any day now a link to espnhiddencamerashowers.com is going to reveal the truth to football fans at $5.99 for the first minute $2.99 for each additional minute.

  47. 47

    @Pogonip: I had no idea what Out was either, and I don’t think I have ever seen it either. I am not the right demographic, I guess.

  48. 48
    Steeplejack says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Yeah, apparently nobody reads Out Circulation is about 200,000 (“includes digital as well as print”).

  49. 49

    @schrodinger’s cat: A cover story on Out basically makes you Neal Patrick Harris for a day, it’s fairly influential in the community.

  50. 50
    Steeplejack says:

    @BGinCHI:

    Right on.

  51. 51
    JPL says:

    Does anyone miss Tim Tebow? Just asking? ESPN probably didn’t care who he took a shower with cuz …………………………………discuss.

  52. 52
    Steeplejack says:

    @Pogonip:

    Although there are probably gay men climbing mountains.

    I think you’re thinking of Out Outside. Extreme niche mag.

  53. 53
    Hal says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    And I was like “who said Sam’s a top?”

    And it was like minds blown

    I mean he probably is though?

    To quote an old friend of mine; “The tougher they are, the quicker they bend over.”

  54. 54
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Steeplejack:

    I’m pretty sure there are more than 200,000 college students in the United States. Heck, I’m pretty sure there are more than 200,000 gay college students in the United States.

    Reread what I said. If Out really does have a large college readership, I would be surprised. They always seemed to be heavily aimed at the 35+ crowd.

  55. 55
    Baud says:

    @Steeplejack:

    Nah. Extreme niche is Outie Out Outside, the magazine for gay men with outie belly buttons who climb mountains.

  56. 56

    @Baud: Well, that and enthusiasts of gay men with outies who climb mountains.

  57. 57
    scav says:

    @Roger Moore: An entire, pervasive system of letters in front of your name signaling your technical hetero-sexual activity status, plus rings for backup is normal background noise. Imagine that lot flaunting it.

    @Baud: “Outie Out Outsides on the Outs”, similar, but specializing in messy breakups.

  58. 58
    Steeplejack says:

    @Keith G:

    [. . .] backwater local[e]s [. . .].

    Okay, I let Anne Laurie’s comment about my alma mater slide, but this is too much. Most university towns in the Midwest—and the South, to a lesser extent—are (somewhat) liberal, blue oases in a sea of red. Okay, they’re not SoHo in New York City, but c’mon . . .

    Somewhat touchy subject because I just spent seveal months going back and forth with a niece who was reluctant to consider a graduate program that is ideal for her because she’s a big-city, warm-weather girl and the program is in—eek!—Iowa City. (She did eventually decide to go there, so now I’m on the hook for anything that she doesn’t like.)

  59. 59
    Baud says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    enthusiasts of gay men with outies who climb mountains.

    Outie Out Outside Fancy?

  60. 60
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Mnemosyne: we should be so lucky to find college kids reading. At least that’s what my perfesser friends tell me.

    Out sounds like a baseball mag to me.

  61. 61
    Steeplejack says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Reread what I said. I was agreeing with you. Two hundred thousand is a tiny audience in this country, and I doubt if very many college students read it. Jesus.

  62. 62
    Roger Moore says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    Out sounds like a baseball mag to me.

    That would be “Out!”; it’s an easy mistake to make, especially when the name is spoken.

  63. 63
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Steeplejack:

    Ah, okay. For some reason, those italics sounded defensive. Sorry about that.

  64. 64
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Major Major Major Major: it’s always been the positive mag of the group. The one least likely to have contents shocking to guests who were otherwise friendly but still convinced that when they weren’t around, your house turned into Tom of Finland’s playland. At the time I was newly minted, there was the Advcate, the Blade and Out. Out was the least depressing read, mainly because the internal politics and wider politics of the time were so toxic and Out would focus on more optimistic stories.

  65. 65

    @Suffern ACE: Those are all still around…

    But yeah Out is sort of the… Time? Of gay mags. A bit like the HRC, fairly milquetoast but the glossiest.

    Now this ‘zine Fag School 4: Meet the Professionals i found the other day? That is freaking gay haha.

  66. 66
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Steeplejack:

    Most university towns in the Midwest—and the South, to a lesser extent—are (somewhat) liberal, blue oases in a sea of red.

    True, that. (And I attended a self-labelled ‘Moo U’ — motto: we’re not Ann Arbor, deal with it — because they offered the most realistic scholarship/work-study package.) But the Mizzou you or today’s liberal arts major attend is probably not the Mizzou the football team’s starters attend, either…

  67. 67
    raven says:

    USC senior cornerback Josh Shaw has admitted to lying about how he suffered his ankle injuries last weekend and has been suspended indefinitely, the school said in a statement Wednesday.

    Shaw said he suffered a pair of high ankle sprains Saturday night after jumping from the second story of an apartment complex to save his 7-year-old nephew, who was struggling in the pool. Shaw said his nephew did not know how to swim. He admitted to team officials on Wednesday that the story was a complete fabrication.

  68. 68
    Gordon, the Big Express Engine says:

    This discussion of Out reminds of the time I was in a convenience store in small town Tennessee and some redneck couldn’t find what he was looking for in the magazine rack and yelled up to the clerk to ask if they had the latest copy of Oui! Except he pronounced it Ow-wee… Good times

  69. 69
    Baud says:

    @raven:

    Aw, jeez. That sucks.

  70. 70

    @Suffern ACE: +1

    Out is gay People magazine.

    The Advocate is gay New Yorker.

    The Blade is just…give up now, there is no hope.

    Or at least that’s how it used to be back when I had time to read magazines. Between the blog comment section and the raising a kid, who can spend that kind of time in the can anymore?

    But seriously, Sam is a college graduate, yes? and he didn’t know Out magazine was interested in the interview because they’re gayer than a Disney Xmas parade? That’s…surprising.

  71. 71
    raven says:

    @Anne Laurie: Athens is plenty damn blue.

  72. 72
    JPL says:

    @raven: I’m shocked…

  73. 73
    Steeplejack says:

    @raven:

    I saw that earlier someplace else. Did they ever say what the real story is?

  74. 74
    raven says:

    @Steeplejack:

    The school did not specify in its statement how Shaw actually sustained his injuries. Shortly after USC issued its statement, Shaw’s attorney released his own statement in which Shaw said he injured himself “in a fall.”

    espn

  75. 75
    Violet says:

    @raven: Saw that on ESPN at the gym this evening. Bummer. Apparently he’s retained a lawyer. Police are involved. Sounds not good.

  76. 76
    Suffern ACE says:

    @PhoenixRising: that’s about right. You would not find articles in Out debating whether the goals of Queer Nation represented the future for gays and lesbians. Maybe a little, but in the end, the conclusion would be “thank you for coming today and giving your opinion, radical activist. Next up, a professional couple from a big bank and major law firm talk about how if you keep at it, eventually your work colleagues will invite you to dinner.”

  77. 77
    Hal says:

    Here’s an otter politely eating kibble at the table.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuwYaBnYX_g#t=16

  78. 78
    Origuy says:

    @Gordon, the Big Express Engine: I heard about a computer geek who asked a bookstore clerk if they had UnixWorld. The clerk replied that they weren’t that sort of bookstore.

  79. 79
    NotMax says:

    @Gordon, the Big Express Engine

    Reminiscent of the old story of the guy who was twiddling through the stations on the car radio.

    “That’s a catchy tune,” he thought. Curious what it was, he kept the station on until the name was announced and only then realized it was a classical station, not his usual choice.

    But still the melody kept rattling around in his head. He even found himself humming snatches of it.

    Eventually he went to the music store to get a copy. Corralling a clerk, he asked for help finding “I’m Inclined to Knock Music.”

  80. 80

    @Gordon, the Big Express Engine: One time my dad was in Switzerland and asked for peppermint schnapps.

    He got Pfeffer mit Schnapps.

  81. 81
    burnspbesq says:

    @Pogonip:

    How’s your bite? Did you file a police report?

    What happened? Did Violet go on a date with Luis Suarez?

  82. 82
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @raven: Yup, that does indeed suck. Just tell the damned truth, it’s easier to keep track of.

  83. 83
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @PhoenixRising: I doubt if Michael Sam has been exposed to that much gay culture, seeing as he’s African-American and went to school in Missouri.

    He probably doesn’t think of himself as “culturally” gay.

  84. 84
    Burt Hutt says:

    @Anne Laurie: Go Green!

  85. 85
    Steeplejack says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    Jeez, I’m driving around now in my wingnut brother’s car with MICH ST vanity plates. The circle of life or something.

  86. 86
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Steeplejack:

    Jeez, I’m driving around now in my wingnut brother’s car with MICH ST vanity plates.

    “….and I’m like “Fuck youuuuu!”

  87. 87
    Violet says:

    @burnspbesq: I was bit by a dog.

  88. 88
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Violet: I hope you are okay, but burnsie’s version makes for a better story – you may want to go with it.

  89. 89
    Violet says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): I’m okay. Giant bruise on the back of my calf but no infection. Given the location, if it was Suarez it must have been while he was diving.

  90. 90
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Violet: I was once walking home from a bar and encountered a dog walking the other way. As the dog passed me, it just turned its head and bit my hand – then kept walking. I was wearing gloves so it was not big deal, but I still have a small scar. to this day, I have no Idea why the dog was in that kind of a mood; I would have given it a scratch or belly rub.

  91. 91
    Violet says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): This dog bit me through a fence. Given it was through a fence I’m still surprised at how bruised it is. The dog must have hit me with some force. The teeth mostly just scratched me but the bruise is huge. Not quite softball sized but not far off.

  92. 92
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Violet: Given our experiences, some dogs are just assholes. They have been around people for a long time.

  93. 93
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): @Violet: Some dogs, like some people, have an exaggerated idea of what constitutes “their” personal space. Even assholes have their reasons — stupid, trouble-making reasons, but that’s why we call them assholes!

  94. 94
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Anne Laurie: It was weird for me because I have always been the guy who gets dogs to like him. Even the evil Shih Szu who hates every one usually lets me rub its belly by the end of night. Usually, they figure out that I really like them and go for the belly rub.

  95. 95
    Jebediah, RBG says:

    @Baud:

    Outie Out Outside

    Lower circulation: Outie Out Outside Offside, where gay outie-navel mountain climbers discuss soccer penalties.

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