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Openly Gay Player Impacts Local College Athletics
It is out in the open now. Michael Sam, one of the nation's top college football players, admits in a television interview that he's a proud gay man. Sam, a defensive lineman at the University of Missouri is eligible for the NFL draft in May. If selected, he would become the first openly gay man to play pro football.
"If I work hard, if I make plays; that's all that should matter. Can he help us win games? Is he a team player? That's all that should matter," Sam said.
The 24-year old is a history maker, expected to be selected in the middle rounds of the NFL draft.
"I like it. I feel like it was just a matter of time before someone came out and said it. I like how it's a younger player, though, because you'll be able to watch his career as it goes on," MacMurray College Student Athlete Advisory Committee member Zachary Bozarth said.
The Jacksonville sophomore says he had an openly gay teammate in high school. Now both he and the college's athletic director think Sam's coming out offers opportunity for others.
"It's definitely about more than athletics. It's how we treat people. It's part of the educational process here at MacMurray College and everywhere in terms of bigger issues in society," MacMurray College Athletic Director Scott McClure said.
Sam's announcement has been met with both positive and negative response in the world of professional athletics. McClure explains what he wants it to mean.
"I want our college student athletes at MacMurray and everywhere to understand the differences and appreciate the differences in people and see that as an opportunity for education, as an opportunity for growth," he said.
In addition to Sam, he mentions Division III freshman kicker Conner Mertens who came out as bisexual in January.