Since potential NFL draft Michael Sam came out as gay on Sunday, February 9, the debate about openly gay NFL players has been heated.
The Westboro Baptist Church attempted to steal the spotlight from Sam’s first public appearance since the announcement by picketing at the University of Missouri, Sam’s college.
However, people such as sportscaster Dale Hansen pointed out the hypocrisy of a historically anti-gay NFL that accepts criminals without question, and many have come out in support of Sam.
When Westboro Baptist came to the school with their usual signs held aloft, claiming he should not be celebrated and labeling him an abomination, they stood outside the university during the home game against Tennessee. And in a show of solidarity with the player, any attempts to get into the stadium were blocked by a wall of students, standing silently with their backs turned against the picketers.
The counter-protest, organized by sophomores Kelaney Lakers and Alix Carruth, brought together hundreds of students and staff in support of Sam. The human “wall of love” stretched a full half-mile.
Moved by the college’s support, Sam wrote an emotional tweet in response:
— Michael Sam (@MikeSamFootball) February 16, 2014
If drafted, Sam will become the first ever openly gay player in the league.
In a statement to the press, Kelaney Lakers and Alix Carruth said, “Our hope is for the wall to reflect a unified student body and symbolize a display of love towards our own tiger, Michael Sam. We’re humbled and a bit overwhelmed by the community’s response. This issue is so much bigger than either of us, and we want to do justice to Michael Sam and show him that [the University of Missouri]loves him.”