Feisty and I just went for a walk, and I took the opportunity to stream Philadelphia sports radio station 97.5 The Fanatic on my phone. Because I’m a diehard Philadelphia Eagles fan, and I was interested in hearing Philly sports talk’s take on the Eagle’s draft. But all any of the callers wanted to talk about was The ESPN Kiss: Missouri linebacker Michael Sam’s emotional embrace of his boyfriend after getting the news that the St. Louis Rams had made him the first out player drafted by an NFL team.
Most of the callers were pretty damn mad. Or disgusted. Or both. Which I guess is a sad commentary on how much anti-gay prejudice remains in mainstream America.
But here’s the thing: host Mike Missanelli forcefully defended the kiss, repeatedly calling out his callers on their bigotry. “If Michael Sam chooses to kiss is boyfriend on national television, what rights does that take away from anyone else?” Missanelli rhetorically asked his audience. “Zero,” he answered. Indeed, Missanelli didn’t just defend Sam’s public display of gay affection, he ridiculed his callers for their outrage, repeatedly comparing it to the outrage people used to express at seeing a black man kiss a white woman.
This is sports talk. In Philadelphia. A disproportionately white, middle-aged, blue collared, Catholic (Italian & Irish) audience. And the hosts are calling their listeners bigots for objecting to a televised gay kiss.
The next generation of sports fans are going to be influenced by these talkers. And that’s progress.