Yes, People Upset About ESPN Exploiting Michael Sam’s Kiss Are Right

You all know I could care less about people kissing people, but this draft business is getting out of control.  People are being attacked, not because they expressed concern about the kissing, but the network’s coverage of the kissing.

If someone gets drafted, it’s likely they’ll kiss and hug their loved ones. That’s not a big deal … gay or straight.  Just like praying or thanking God shouldn’t be a big deal, but attacking Tim Tebow because of his faith in very personal ways is considered acceptable in our society. Blatant double-standard?  Yes, but it’s worse than that.  Tebow was attacked directly, and personally by the majority of faith-critics.  Sam wasn’t.  People attacked the network’s coverage of Sam and his boyfriends embrace, not the two young men directly.

Here’s the original moment between Sam and his boyfriend that aired on TV:

Obviously a tender moment between two people who care about each other.  That moment is not why so many are upset.  It’s that the network aired that moment a million times. Something they do not do with straight athletes in the same circumstance.

Here’s a couple of things to keep in mind when discussing this story with others:

1) Most of the negative reaction I’ve seen about this wasn’t that there was an initial kiss (6 kisses actually), it was that the kiss was played over and over dozens of times by a network that does not play those moments of other players in similar circumstances.

2) Most of the negative reaction I’ve seen beyond the rerun criticism doesn’t come from the initial kiss moment at all. It’s the ‘cake kiss’ that was aired on the same network after the original kissing moment had long been over with.

I don’t remember the last time a network aired a player kissing his girlfriend over and over again multiple times, and focusing on that moment rather than the moment they got the call about being drafted.  Do you?

Right off the get go, Sam was being treated differently by than other players. Something he’d openly stated he didn’t want to happen. exploited their relationship for ratings, they didn’t empower them or the gay community.

What’s worse, is that later on, ESPN continued to film Sam and his boyfriend enjoying intimate moments with one another. This brings us to the ‘cake kiss’ that seems to be the actual target of people’s ire.

There’s a lot of people out there ignoring that this second intimate moment between these two was aired, and replayed several times.  I’ve spoken with a few people who didn’t know about it.

Most of the people I’ve talked to who expressed concern over the kiss cited the ‘cake kiss’ as the reason they felt the network crossed the line.  Three kisses on the cheek, and five lip-locks (some with food play) were played literally dozens of times that night.  That’s where people seem to be upset.

I need to reiterate here that Sam and his boyfriend did absolutely nothing wrong.  They were just being themselves, and enjoying each other in the biggest moment of their lives.  It’s the network choosing to focus on the kiss rather than the momentous occasion of getting that call from Coach Fisher that was wrong.

You can certainly argue that these moments were historic, and not exploitative if you want. You can also argue that the whole draft exploits these young men, and you’d have a point.  The fact of the matter is though, the draft ceased being about young men’s dreams coming true that night.  The draft ceased being about Michael Sam finally getting the call in the last round.  The draft simply became about Sam and his boyfriend kissing.  I think that took something away from him, and has now created a media circus around him that may cause a distraction.

Being critical of the coverage of Sam kissing his boyfriend isn’t homophobic, or anti-gay.  It’s humanistic.

Go get ’em Michael.  Prove you deserved to be drafted before the 7th round.