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Michael Sam and the Crushing Weight and Loneliness of Expectations

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When Michael Sam made the announcement, his intention of being the first openly gay athlete in the NFL, we expected speed bumps.

We expected Sam’s draft stock slip.  We expected athletes would use code words to hide discrimination and fears. We expected “distraction” talk from coaches and general management.

But most of all, we, and Michael Sam expected him to persevere and be an NFL player.

We didn’t expect where he would be today.

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Shutting Out the Nerves: Who is Josh Harding and Why is His Battle To Remain in the NHL So Important?

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Josh Harding is just another hockey player.  He was a second round pick by the Minnesota Wild in 2002, bounced back and forth between the team and its AHL affiliate, bouncing back and forth a few times before settling in as the team’s backup goalie.

Slowly building up a resume, he tore his ACL in 2010 and missed the entire season.  His return in 2011-12 was successful, leading to a long-term commitment to him by the Wild in the form of a 3-year $5.7 million contract.

Coming off a season where he finally won more than he lost, with a 2.62 GAA, Harding looked to build on that season after the NHL lockout, perhaps getting a chance to be the starter if the incumbent, Niklas Backstrom, got traded mid-season.

Last November, his unspectacular story would change forever. Continue reading

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