5-at-10: Sam comes out, Smart's poor choice, where do the Beatles rank

5-at-10: Sam comes out, Smart's poor choice, where do the Beatles rank

February 10th, 2014 by Jay Greeson in Sportscolumns

Hope you enjoyed the weekend and are braced for the next round of snow. Snow officially stinks.

From the "Talks too much" studios, yesterday does seem so far away.

North outside linebacker Michael Sam (55) of Missouri runs on to the field before the Senior Bowl NCAA game in Mobile, Ala. in this Jan. 25, 2014, file photo.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Sam he is

Michael Sam told the world he is gay Sunday. He told his teammates in August.

Sam was a breakthrough surprise for the Missouri Tigers, who made a surprising breakthrough in the SEC East. His announcement is a testament to the Tigers ability to bond and keep his secret.

We have long believed that sports in general is the last remaining avenue in our society that is close to a true meritocracy. Get what you earn. Earn what you get. Can you make plays, whether you are black or brown or white or polka dotted? Can you win games whether you date the entire cheerleading squad or none of them or the a guy in the band?

By that logic, Sam's public announcement should matter little. But the warmth provided by the blanket of meritocracy is two-sided. Will Sam's sexuality be a distraction to teammates or to the mission of winning in the NFL? If so, it matters, not unlike any other characteristic or persona, especially for a player who is projected as a mid-round pick. Will an NFL team be willing to accept the expected media interest and the possible backlash - not from protesters per se as much as the potential for heightened interest and focus about whether Sam makes the team or the starting line-up or whatever - that will come from Sam's presence?

To say no one should care is fine. Sam said he wanted to own his truth, a commendable and understandable notion that was proven true and clear by Sam's openness to his Missouri teammates.

But to expect a shrug of the shoulders and a nod and then off to the next drill as if Sam announced he's left-handed or has a speech-impediment is obtuse. In fact, Sam and his representatives told the folks at outsports.com about the planning and preparation that went into the how and when about making the announcement.

This will be interesting to follow for sure.

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Not a Smart move

Oklahoma State's Markel Brown(22) and Phil Forte(13) hold Marcus Smart(33) after Smart shoved a fan during their NCAA college basketball game in Lubbock, Texas, Saturday, Feb, 8, 2014.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

By now you have heard that Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart made the unwise decision to push a dumb, heckling fan Saturday night. It made some of the news shows and everything, and our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer wrote on it here.

Weeds accurately and acutely points out that there is plenty of blame to be shared between Smart and Dummy. They are the Ying and the Yang - or maybe the ding and the dong - of this affair, and the scenario allows for some quick discussion.

Players should never go into the stands. Fans should never go onto the court. This is a boundary that divides and each has to be able to trust it.

That said, the level of fan civility is at an all-time low. Does that clear Smart? Of course not. But it does make us sad at the state of the game when a we all feel a small bit relieved that a 50-year-old man only called a 20-year-old a piece of crap.

UT players arrested

This image released by the Knox County Sheriff's office shows Tennessee defensive lineman Danny O'Brien in his booking photo.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

A handful of Tennessee Vols including All-SEC middle linebacker A.J. Johnson were arrested over the weekend.

They had a shindig and there were minors there drinking alcohol. It's college. It happens.

That this is the first off-the-field incident of note under Butch Jones is both good and interesting.

It's good that the Vols have been incident free for the last 14 months. It will be interesting to see how Butch handles this.

Hey, maybe he can suspend A.J. for the UTC game next fall.

This and that

United States basketball player Kevin Durant arrives to watch a women's beach volleyball match between USA and Austria.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

- Detroit fired Maurice Cheeks, who was 21-29 in his first season with the team. Fired 50 games into your first season? Has to be more to this story.

- Kevin Durant continues his assault on the NBA. The man recently dubbed the Slim Reaper dropped 41 on the Knicks on Sunday and added 10 rebounds and nine assists. But the evolution of his game is greater than that great stat line. Durant held fellow scoring machine Carmelo Anthony to 15 points on 5-of-19 shooting.

- Man, how about that winter Olympics, huh? Where's the remote?

- Jimmy Walker is slap dy-NO-mite. Dude won for the third time on the PGA Tour this season. And sadly, there were limited camera ops for Kid Rock and John Daly this week at the pro-am.

- Vols beat a very bad South Carolina team. Mocs lost at Samford and surrendered the SoCon lead for the first time all year. And Jim Foster's XY Mocs continue to drub people.

- Side note: We asked UTC coach Will Wade on Press Row on Friday about the throwback game the XY Mocs did over the weekend and if his Mocs could try something like that. He said he was open to it and would love to try it against one of UTC's old-school rivals - Paschall said Marshall; we suggested the SoCon revival with ETSU - but he would not commit to his team wearing the old-school, John Stockton-type shorts.

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Today's questions

We are flushed with questions and requests for feedback today.

Should Michael Sam's sexual preferences matter? More importantly, will they matter? Thoughts on the Marcus Smart situation? Discuss.

If you need something less heavy, try this on for size. We spent a quiet Sunday night watching the tribute to the Beatles to celebrate their 50th anniversary of playing on the Ed Sullivan Show.

The tribute, which included a cavalcade of stars, included several performances of Beatles classics that could be hits today. It also made us wonder, who's on your Rushmore of rock bands all-time? Discuss.