Even those who don’t know that a field goal is worth three points or that Peyton Manning chokes in the playoffs every year know that Michael Sam is a football icon. Michael Sam has been praised for being the first openly gay football player in the NFL. On May 11, Michael Sam was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round; he was the 249th overall pick of this year’s NFL draft. After receiving the news that he would be playing for the Rams, Sam gave his boyfriend an un-embarrassed, public celebratory kiss. Michael Sam and other openly gay celebrities have been crowned heroes by pop culture strictly based on their sexuality. Yet Christians who are as open about their faith as homosexuals are about their sexuality receive all kinds of scrutiny. If we are taught to be tolerant, why doesn’t it go both ways?

According to Webster’s dictionary, tolerance is the ability or willingness to tolerate something; in particular, to accept the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with. Pop culture has taught us to be tolerant of other people’s viewpoints so we can all “coexist” peacefully.

Pop culture preaches tolerance of homosexuality; articles are written on the subject, documentaries are made about the subject. Personally, I don’t care that much about people’s sexual orientations. I would even guess that most of America doesn’t care about the sexuality of their favorite athlete or celebrity.  Michael Sam was drafted based on his talent, not sexuality. The St. Louis Rams are paying him to play football, not to be the poster child for openly gay athletes. We’ve seen a similar media frenzy with Jason Collins, the first openly gay NBA basketball player.

Matt Walsh writes:

They were hoisted up and canonized by pop culture, most of mainstream society, most major corporations, most of the media, most of academia, most of our politicians, and the President of the United States of America. Their ‘announcements’ instantly ensured them a protected status and, particularly in the case of Collins and Sam, a fame and cultural relevance they would not have otherwise achieved.

In recent years, the media has portrayed conservatives as homophobic, women-hating, gun-toting maniacs and liberals as equality-driven, environmentally-friendly human rights advocates.The media has an overwhelming effect on pop culture. Let’s compare the media portrayal of a Christian athlete to an openly gay athlete

Tim Tebow played for the Florida Gators. During his sophomore year, he was honored as the Heisman trophy winner. According to the Examiner, Tebow proudly broadcast his Christian faith throughout his playing career. Tebow frequently wrote Biblical citations on the black patches he put underneath his eyes. These references would later generate millions of Google searches. After touchdowns Tebow would kneel down in his own, unique praying position which would later become known as ‘Tebowing.’ Tebow would frequently credit God for his victories.”

However, Tim Tebow fell short of people’s expectations. After one season with the Denver Broncos, he was traded to the New York Jets and then later to the New England Patriots. Because his performance did not live up to the expectations of his coaches, Tebow was eventually let go from the Patriots.

During Tim Tebow’s fifteen minutes of fame, he was criticized because of his faith. Sports commentators and members of the media told him to put his faith aside and play football. Saturday Night Live got rave reviews for a comedy sketch that openly mocked Tebow’s Christianity. If Tebow’s faith interfered with his gameplay, and he was asked to stop wearing his religion on his sleeve, why is Michael Sam’s openness as a homosexual not considered detrimental to his performance the way Tebow’s faith was?

Michael Sam is a football player who just happens to be gay. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t see how his sexuality has anything to do with his ability to play football. If Sam wants to be judged by his ability, leave his sexuality out of it. Just a reminder, Sam was the eighth to last person chosen in the draft. Yet again, the media has blown this out of proportion.  Tolerance is not just something you take–it’s given.