Sex shouldn't always sell
Posted May 23
The signature event on the European PGA Tour is being contested this week, the BMW Championship at historic Wentworth Club in Virginia Water, Surrey, England.
As is the norm at big golf events, the headline players spend time prior to the championship talking golf with the assembled media. To that end, two-time major champion Rory McIlroy took his turn in front of the microphones on Wednesday and talked about his broken heart.
Earlier in the day, McIlroy released a statement through his agent/publicist/people regarding the abrupt ending of his relationship with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki.
It seems that McIlroy, who just recently turned 25, suddenly realized that he was not ready for holy matrimony, and called off the engagement. That he came to this decision just two days after the couple had put wedding invitations in the mail only emphasizes the sudden nature of the split. However, this is not the first time this has happened in the annals of human history. It's not even the first time it's happened to a young couple connected to golf. Greg Norman's daughter shattered the heart of Sergio Garcia a number of years ago.
It happens, if you know what I mean.
Why we care about Rory McIlroy's love life is a mystery to me, but those were the first questions he dealt with the day before the biggest tournament on the European Tour's regular schedule. Then I realized that it's Europe and they love scandal and gossip more than the cast of "The Talk," and it all balanced out for me. Seriously though, this isn't scandal. It's not even gossip.
This is NORMAL.
They're young, attractive, world-class athletes who each play a sport that demands a manner of selfish behavior, not to mention an inordinate amount of practice time. Oh, and on top of that, they travel the world on opposite schedules. Did I also mention that they're really young, maybe even too young to be married? You couldn't be too shocked that they didn't make it to the alter.
Hey, at least we can say that we cared about the couple's well-being, right? That is why everyone asked those questions about when and why the relationship ended, right? That's why everybody asked if Rory was going to be alright, because they care about his well being. How nice.
Think anyone will ask Michael Sam if he's OK should his relationship with boyfriend Vito Cammisano come to a sudden end? I wonder if Peter King will ask Sam about what happened? Did the pair just grow apart? Was there someone else? OK, that's not the greatest example in the world, I'll give you that. The NFL media doesn't care at all about anyone's love life. And, that is as it should be.
Consider this, however. We have a collective obsession, it seems, with the girlfriends or wives of players. Remember a couple of years ago when the sports media let out a collective gasp at the sight of Ryan Tannehill's wife, Lauren? Imagine, a quarterback with a blonde bombshell girlfriend? I don't believe it's ever happened before.
Or, what about the time Brent Musburger nearly drowned in the drool dripping off of his own chin at the sight of Katherine Webb, then the girlfriend – now fiancee – of Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron?
"You quarterbacks, you get all the good looking women," Musburger fawned during a lull in 'Bama's 2012 national championship blowout of Notre Dame. "Woah! If you're a youngster in Alabama, start getting the football out and throw it around the backyard with pop."
Think Brent would have said anything like that upon seeing pictures of Cammisano, a pretty well put together athlete in his own right? I'm not kidding, Cammisano is a handsome, well-built guy. Dark hair with a great smile, he was on the diving team at Missouri, and those guys have almost negative body fat percentages. Impressive.
But, the sight of Sam and Cammisano kissing on television nearly left the Twitter-sphere with lockjaw.
Now, we're suddenly all puritans? Now, it's "oh, my virgin eyes?" We're weak in the knees at the sight of Katherine Webb or Lauren Tannehill, but we turn away from the screen when Sam and Cammisano are playing with cake.
"What am I going to tell my children?"
Excuse me? What's to hide? You think homosexuality is going to go away. I mean, if you really wish hard enough, do you think it will just fade into oblivion? How about explaining to your children that not everyone lives life in the same manner and that you fall in love with who you fall in love with. Seems simple to me.
But telling your children about other lifestyles is your choice. No one is forcing you to expand your, or their, understanding of alternative lifestyles. You're not required to do anything but respect another human being's feelings. You don't have to love Michael Sam, or Vito Cammisano, or their love for each other. You just have to respect them as people. That will suffice.
One more thing about those crazy kids before I go – shame on every single member of the media who shamed Sam and Oprah Winfrey's network (OWN) into pulling the plug on the documentary that would highlight Sam's day-to-day grind to make the St. Louis Rams' roster. Virtually every single opinion piece was a take down of Sam's character, as the keyboard jockeys questioned his motives regarding everything.
Wasn't it supposed to be all about football? How can we believe anything about Michael Sam now? Jason Whitlock, one of the smartest minds in journalism, let alone sports writing, essentially called Sam a sellout.
"Michael $am contradicts Michael Sam…who repeatedly swore he just wanted to focus on football, not his sexuality."
Isn't this America, where capitalism – if not capitalizing – reigns? So, a professional athlete – or anyone who has the opportunity, for that matter – isn't supposed to strike while the iron is hot, assuming that this is what this is, because it doesn't fit with your idea of right and wrong, Jason?
You say that making the team will be the best thing Sam can do, and you're right. But there's a story to tell along the way that could have incredible impact, and that story can't be told as effectively after the fact.
Another example, Drew Magary of Deadspin, one of the truly great reads out here on the web, took it a little beyond that point calling it a "transparent and pathetic attempt at self-branding," because that's what all reality shows boil down to being. But, Magary didn't stop there: "Now that Sam has a reality show, can anyone believe with 100 percent confidence that the kiss he shared with his boyfriend…was a real and true moment?"
That's a level of cynicism that I'm just not comfortable reaching.
I get it, sports is macho, teeming with testosterone. It doesn't deal well with, take well to or act well toward homosexuality. There are still too many questions about what happens in the shower to make me believe otherwise. Where sports always led in terms of civil rights, it severely lags in its acceptance of the openly gay athlete. And that's what makes this development so disheartening.
Charles Barkley was right all those years ago when he claimed, through the script of a Nike ad campaign, that "I am not a role model." True, parents are role models. Teachers and other educators are role models. But high-profile athletes can be great examples to young people, young girls especially. Pardon the comparison, but there are plenty of young men, struggling with their sexuality, who could really benefit from seeing the ongoing struggle of Sam, away from the football field.
It's hard enough for young men to be comfortable enough with who they truly are, then throw the muscled-up culture of sports into the mix and who would blame someone if they chose to hide their identity. But it's unhealthy and, more importantly, unfair because why should being open about who they love be okay for one but not for all.
With Sam living his life in front of the world an opportunity presented itself to display a man, pursuing his dream, who might be able to show other young men with similar aspirations that, while the road wasn't covered in rose petals, there was at least a path to pursue a life in sports no matter how difficult the task.
While Michael Sam stands for who he is and what he wants to be, we have too many critics complaining about how a potential peek into HIS world will make THEM feel.
Shame on them.