ST. LOUIS - One of the most respected high school and college football coaches calls Michael Sam's arrival as a St. Louis Ram, a "teachable moment."
Rich Grawer said football is a touch and macho field, but between the rushes and passes, coaches build the character of their young athletes.
"We've got an opportunity to really educate these kids. The teachable moment is tolerance, acceptance, willing to treat human beings as human beings no matter what their sexual preference," said Grawer.
He's taught hundreds of students over his long career. He said not every coach will be able to teach the lesson. He said superintendents can make sure tolerance never gets a pass on the field.
"If we can't preach tolerance in our schools and our communities, this country is going to hell," he said.
He knows it's easier for gay high school football athletes to carry their secret, than to share it.
"There could be some repercussions, people will make fun of him people will say stuff about him," said Grawer.
But there will be athletes who will admire and embrace that player too.
"I wouldn't be surprised if somewhere along the line, the next kid to come out will be a high school football player. Look at Michael Sam. Look at what he accomplished on the field, he was the best player in the SEC the most macho football conference there is," he said.
Grawer said the lesson is easy, Michael Sam is a great football player, who just happens to be gay.
NewsChannel 5 called several school districts to find out their policy on gay and lesbian students. Every district we talked to had a gay and straight alliance. They told us gay students felt accepted there. We also talked to gay advocates who work with teenagers. They told us many students are still too afraid or rejection, humiliation and repercussion to come out at school and at home.