By Chris Hoenig
When NFL prospect Michael Sam announced he is gay, vile, hate-filled reaction followed on Twitter (WARNING: link contains graphic language). His father struggled with the news. Current NFL players said the league isn’t ready for an openly gay player. His draft stock plummeted.
And then, in just over two minutes, one man silenced the haters.
Dale Hansen, a sportscaster at Dallas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV, gave a commentary taking on Sam’s haters, celebrating our differences and celebrating Sam.
“On Sunday, Missouri’s All-American defensive end Michael Samthe SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year and expected to be a third- to fifth-round pick in the NFL drafttells the world he’s gay,” Hansen said. “The best defensive player in college football’s best conference only a third- to fifth-round NFL pick Really That is shocking, and I guess that other thing is, too.”
Sam “says he knows there will be problems and they’ve already started. Several NFL officials are telling Sports Illustrated it will hurt him on draft day because a gay player wouldn’t be welcome in an NFL locker room. It would be uncomfortable, because that’s a man’s world,” Hansen says before laying into the NFL and its locker-room culture and history.
“You beat a woman and drag her down a flight of stairs, pulling her hair out by the roots You’re the fourth guy taken in the NFL draft. You kill people while driving drunk That guy’s welcome. Players caught in hotel rooms with illegal drugs and prostitutes We know they’re welcome. Players accused of rape and pay the woman to go away You lie to police trying to cover up a murder We’re comfortable with that,” Hansen said, referencing players including Lawrence Phillips, Donte’ Stallworth, Ben Roethlisberger and Ray Lewis. “You love another man Well, now you’ve gone too far!
“It wasn’t that long ago when we were being told that Black players couldn’t play in ‘our’ games because it would be ‘uncomfortable.’ And even when they finally could, it took several more years before a Black man played quarterback. Because we weren’t ‘comfortable’ with that, either.
“So many of the same people who used to make that argument, and the many who still do, are the same people who say government should stay out of our lives. But they want government in our bedrooms. I’ve never understood how they feel ‘comfortable’ laying claim to both sides of that argument.
“I’m not always comfortable when a man tells me he’s gay; I don’t understand his world. But I do understand that he’s part of mine.
“Civil-rights activist Audre Lord said: ‘It is not our differences that divide us. It’s our inability to recognize, accept and celebrate those differences.’ We’ve always been able to recognize ’em. Some of us accept ’em. And I want to believe that there will be a day when we do celebrate ’em. I don’t know if that day’s here yet. I guess we’re about to find out.
“But when I listen to Michael Sam, I do think it’s time to celebrate him now.”
Hansen and WFAA are being praised for the commentary. News anchors and sportscasters are generally kept from sharing their editorial opinions on stories they cover, and WFAA’s Texas audience doesn’t exactly live in an area widely accepted as a safe-haven for LGBT rights. Instead of the hate-filled tweets filling people’s timelines before, Twitter reaction to Hansen was full of support and respect.
troy david johnston (@troydavidjohns) February 13, 2014
2 minutes 15 seconds of goosebumps by Dale Hansen. Celebrating our differences: https://t.co/XMTVVNN2BP
Jan Lehnardt (@janl) February 13, 2014
dale hansen for the win! http://t.co/x4e65S5GCi
lucia micarelli (@theloosh) February 13, 2014