North of the 400

North of Toronto, South of a championship

Things We’re Not Interested In: The NFL Draft

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With the NFL Draft plastered across the TSN networks for three nights this week, it’s a busy weekend for Stuff I Don’t Care About. It’s a fun time, folks!

See, the NFL Draft is an exercise in hype and hyperbole, the kind of thing they could bang out in an afternoon if they so wished, but it stretched out to Pantagruelian proportions and covers a few nights of TV. And really, what for? To watch a bunch of young adults put on a jersey?

While I won’t begrudge them a moment in the spotlight, it’s worth pointing out the only interesting story to come out of the draft in recent years is when Michael Sam was drafted –  in the seventh round, no less – and planted a kiss on his boyfriend.

Last year, I wrote a column about Sam – I don’t think it ever ran, either –  and how he was a big deal. From my unpublished notes:

When Sam plays, LGBTQ people will be watching. Some, I’m sure, will be inspired to keep playing their sports without keeping an important part of their life hidden; others will start paying attention because of Sam. When Cuban said he a player’s sexuality shouldn’t matter, he was right: it shouldn’t. But in this environment, where Arizona is flirting with allowing businesses to openly discriminate, it does.

In the year-and-a-bit since I wrote that, things have gotten messier, but maybe clearer, too. Sam spent part of the NFL season on Dallas’ practice squad and never played in a game, while Indiana recently passed a law that allows businesses to discriminate under the guise of religious objections. One business managed to parlay that law, and it’s resulting backlash, into gobs of capital. (I’m sure you know Mencken’s line)

At the same time, there has been pushing the other way, too. Sam hasn’t faded away like most practice squad players: he was recently on Dancing With the Stars and there’s still talk he may play in the CFL, if not in the NFL. And there’s Bruce Jenner’s coming out as trans a little while back, important in it’s own way but also relevant to this discussion. Remember, Jenner was a hell of an athlete back in the day.

But back to the draft: last night, Shane Ray was taken by Denver late in the first round. And as Outsports noted, there’s a lot of similarities between Ray and Sam. Funny how that works, eh?

Which sort of gets me to the second-biggest problem I have with pro football: it’s hypocrisy. This is a sport that lets people get away with being awful human beings. They can beat their kids until the police get involved and still have careers; be a big enough star and they’ll even try to sweep your abuse under the rug. Players get arrested, players sometimes even go to jail. But when Sam comes out, it’s a distraction. It’s also a load of horseshit.

But so is the draft, which is literally three hours of talking, handshakes and posing. It’s unbelievably dull. And, frankly, it’s annoying that TSN is airing it over playoff basketball.

Written by M.

May 1, 2015 at 11:12 am

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