“Some of us have great runways already built for us. If you have one, take off. But if you don’t have one, realize it is your responsibility to grab a shovel and build one for yourself and for those who will follow after you.”
– Amelia Earhart
Dear Michael Sam
I don’t know you personally but I hope this letter reaches you because I believe it’s the message you are meant to hear.
Sometimes in life we fail to see the great opportunities inherent in our struggles. I know football is what you love but have you ever considered that the struggle you face is not about the game of football but an overall greater purpose awaiting you in the game of life.
Michael here are the 5 steps to realizing your purpose and making a true difference.
- Turn your anger and frustration into a passion to make a difference
Michael you are a trailblazer and like others before you the path is laden with struggle and unforeseen circumstances outside of your control. How you handle those situations will determine if others choose to follow in your footsteps or stay regulated to the darkness of their fears. I know you are frustrated that your NFL dreams did not come to fruition the way you planned. Turn that emotion into a passion for paving the way for those to come. Jackie Robinson had to make tremendous sacrifices understanding that in his hands laid the fate of all those who would or “would not” come after him.
- Apologize for passively outing other pro athletes
I understand you may have felt abandoned by athletes who chose to stay quiet instead of showing outright support. These other athletes placed not only their trust but their livelihood in your hands and as frustrated as it was feeling that they were not there to stand when you needed them to- you as a leader were given the gift of their trust. You needed to appreciate that trust, to be the leader they could depend on and believe in. They needed to know that you truly had their best interest at heart even at a high cost to yourself.
If you had done this they would have given you a respect and trust that money simply cannot buy and in due time you would have been able to bring people together to do things they otherwise would not have. They may not have openly come out but they may have openly expressed support that could change the fate for those to come, and that my friend is a big win. Apologize profusely behind the scenes to them personally and issue a blanket apology publicly. Let everyone know you have seen the wrong of your ways and allowed your frustration to get the best of you. Promise those athletes individually and the young players you impacted that you will do everything your power to be worthy of the trust and respect that was given to you.
- Be the leader you needed
Remember a time when as a young man coming to grips with not only being gay but having to confront that reality as an athelete. Think about who you needed and who you became in order to help you through that. Many kids don’t have that person, that leader, that motivation to continue forward in the face of all the struggles they will face. Be the leader they need and you had or wish you had. Michael that person will change the world for the better.
- Publicly set the vision for the future
Publicly set the vision for the future as you would like to see it for gay athletes in sports. We all need a vision without it the scriptures say that the people will perish, not only the people but their hopes and dreams as well. Set a vision that will inspire and move others, gay and otherwise. In the end what you’re looking to achieve goes beyond sexual preference and gender, it is about a kid that has a dream and believes they matter and that they can be something in this life…who are we to take that away from them.
- Touch the People
Get to where people need you. Be a great voice and testament to the power of standing up for what you believe in. Your life serves a greater purpose Michael than just the game of football. Get out to the schools, the colleges, speak and be a liaison if not in the NFL then in College to help players and students on both sides of the issue. Help those athletes and students across college campuses who are gay and straight in how to deal with whatever issues you had to deal with. Michael what you can bring to the table for countless people is invaluable and you have a visible platform to do it from. You literally have the power to save lives.
Finish what you started, this is the biggest game you will ever play in and the purpose you choose to pursue will determine how you played the game. At the end of the day you can be a Hall of Famer on the greatest playing field ever…life.
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