Ethics Hero: Michael Sam

What NFL team wants to draft Caesar's wife?

What NFL team wants to draft Caesar’s wife?

Michael Sam, an All-American defensive lineman from Missouri and the Associated Press’ SEC Defensive Player of the Year, told ESPN Sunday that he is gay. “I am an openly, proud gay man.” Sam is projected to be a mid-round draft choice for the NFL draft in May. If he is drafted and makes the team, Sam would be the first openly gay active NFL player.

We shall see. Sam’s plan, he said, was to announce his sexual orientation after the draft, which might have been wiser and more practical, though not as ethical. He said that rumors were circulating, so he decided to come out now.

However he arrived at the decision, Sam’s candor is a courageous act, and I assume he will suffer for it. No NFL team has to draft him, and many teams that might have will not, presumably, simply to avoid the distraction of media scrutiny. If they draft him and cut him, will he claim that it was out of bigotry? Will he sue? I think most teams will decide that there are other similarly talented non-gay players available, and let some other team jump into these roiling social change and political waters. Continue reading

Howard Kurtz And The Critic’s Dilemma

David Niven would understand, Howard.

David Niven would understand, Howard.

The Daily Beast has canned Howard Kurtz, the only current official news media critic in captivity, and now CNN, long the home of Kurtz’s “Reliable Sources” panel show that reviews the media’s choice and manner of news coverage during the week, is “reviewing” his status with that show as well. The sudden downturn in Kurtz’s fortunes is, we are told, the result of an accumulation of mistaken stories, missed facts and sloppy reporting of his own. I’ll buy that explanation, but there is more here too.

Kurtz’s departure was overdue. I have followed him for years, and his coverage, as I have pointed out periodically, was unacceptably politically slanted for a quasi-journalism ethicist. A typical performance was when he recently criticized —correctly—Republicans who were (and are) trying to twist the Boston bombing tragedy into an argument against immigration reform. In a reply to a comment on the recent Ethics Alarms post on the same topic, I noted that media commentators who saw nothing wrong with the Democrats using a Newtown massacre that would not have been altered in any way by background checks to push for more gun controls were suddenly applying the correct standards to a similar conservative manipulation of the Boston Marathon attack: Continue reading

Sports Commentary Ethics And Bigotry: ESPN Should Tell Chris Broussard To Shut Up

Yes, I have a question, Chris: Who cares what your religious beliefs are?

Yes, I have a question, Chris: Who cares what your religious beliefs are?

ESPN has raised some eyebrows for the sports network’s unequivocal support of Chris Broussard, one of its NBA reporters, who in response to a request for his reaction to Jason Collins’ announcing that he was gay, becoming the first active NBA player ever to do so, said this on the ESPN show, “Outside the Lines”:

“I’m a Christian. I don’t agree with homosexuality. I think it’s a sin, as I think all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is,” he said (transcript via Blazers Edge’s Ben Golliver). “L.Z. [Granderson, a gay sportswriter and ESPN contributor] knows that. He and I have played on basketball teams together for several years. We’ve gone out, had lunch together, we’ve had good conversations, good laughs together. He knows where I stand, and I know where he stands. I don’t criticize him, he doesn’t criticize me, and call me a bigot, call me ignorant, call me intolerant. In talking to some people around the league, there’s a lot of Christians in the NBA, and just because they disagree with that lifestyle, they don’t want to be called bigoted and intolerant and things like that. That’s what L.Z. was getting at. Just like I may tolerate someone whose lifestyle I disagree with, he can tolerate my beliefs. He disagrees with my beliefs and my lifestyle, but true tolerance and acceptance is being able to handle that as mature adults and not criticize each other and call each other names….

“Personally, I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly premarital sex between heterosexuals, if you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says you know them by their fruits, it says that’s a sin. If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be, I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I do not think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian.”

ESPN diplomatically responded, In a statement, ESPN said: “We regret that a respectful discussion of personal viewpoints became a distraction from today’s news. ESPN is fully committed to diversity and welcomes Jason Collins’ announcement.”

I find it difficult to believe that ESPN would regard similar sentiments about the sinfulness of women failing to be subordinate to their husbands or inter-racial marriage as “a respectful discussion of personal viewpoints.” Continue reading

Musings On The Jason Collins Announcement


Jason Collins, a reserve NBA center, became a huge news story as well as symbol of increasing gay acceptance in America when he announced his sexual orientation in a Sports Illustrated cover story this week. This made him,technically at least, the first active athlete in one of the U.S’s major professional sports to “come out.” Since his team is not in the NBA play-offs, and since Collins is a free agent going into 2014, the NBA has yet to see its first openly gay player take the floor in a game, and Collins may not be the one who does it.

What does it all mean?

  • Collins is courageous.
  • I hate the fact that the state of celebrity economics, fame and popular culture makes me think like this, but it does: How can we know that Collins, a borderline and largely obscure NBA player nearing the end of his career, didn’t see a chance at the kind of fame, stardom and popularity, not to mention guest appearances, sponsorships and endorsements that have eluded him in his playing career, and grabbed it? We don’t. This was the kind of act that has nothing but good results whatever the motives of the actor, and so it is an ethical act by definition. Was it a truly selfless act, as it is being portrayed? I think Collins deserves the benefit of the doubt, but I sure have some. Continue reading