I rarely write sport blogs....mostly because I consider the NBA a 'weed' of an operation, major league baseball is fundamentally flawed with fake records, and the NFL is simply the NCAA on steroids.
This weekend....the Saint Louis Rams ended up drafting Michael Sam (the first openly gay NCAA football player)....in the seventh round. Generally, some wondered if Sam would get picked up by anyone. The seventh round status? Well.....it means you don't get a big contract, and it's probable that you last maybe five years max in the NFL unless some coach takes a liking to you and decides you have more talent that recruiters believe.
In the case of Sam? Most believe he's not really a potential star, and might only be a two-star performer.
Why draft him and the social status business it brings? Well....it's about empty seats.
You see, in Saint Louis....the Ed Jones Stadium is built for 66,000 fans. For the eight home games of 2013, they averaged around 56,957 in attendance (ESPN numbers). Nine thousand empty seats. You do the math. It's a fair amount of missing profit.
So, here's this marginal player, with some capability.....who you offer a good basic contract for four years probably. You push the coach a little to hype the guy, and put the guy into a starting position three or four times in 2014's season. Maybe start him six times in 2015. The odds are in your favor that another thousand fans will attend Rams games....only because Michael Sam is gay, and openly so.....and they want to show support.
A thousand more per game, for eight games....figure these are all idiots who'd pay $75 a ticket, and waste another $150 on parking, beer, and food. Plus, they'd bring a buddy with them. It adds up.
I hate to suggest that you manipulate a social thing, and use a guy just to get more fans into the stadium.....but if you built something for 66,000 and are missing 9,000.....you are doing something wrong. Plus....if you pay this guy a limited contract and get 1,000 more fans in the stands....it makes perfect economic sense.
The NFL isn't around for social causes or changing American perceptions. It's there for profit. Sam equals profit....no matter how you review the situation. In five years....he will have shown virtually no real talent and get dumped. He'll write a book over the period, and then likely get hired by the Today Show to thrill viewers. And the Today Show will make profit off Sam. End of the story.