Leagues of Social Progress

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At its heart, 2QD is a pop culture blog.  Sometimes, politics crossover into the worlds I’ll discuss and make themselves present. Today, this was especially true.

Sports leagues and teams around the country today went purple for Spirt Day. What is Spirit Day? It’s a day centered around supporting anti-bullying efforts, especially in regards to LGBT youth.  If you are modern, forward-thinking person in the year 2013, you no doubt support this.  No one is in favor of bullying (I hope not), and the outsized ostracizing of LGBT youth that goes with it.

 

 

Now, a liberal organization like Think Progress going purple is not a surprise to anyone. They’re acting on behalf of their beliefs, a set of values they share with their followers. Major league sports teams are another case.

Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League went purple today in support of Spirit Day. The NHL’s advocacy makes a lot of sense considering their partnership with the You Can Play Project.  You Can Play started out in hockey as an independent organization aimed at promoting equality in the locker room. It found widespread success, and the NHL officially partnered up with the group in the summer. Major League Baseball is a bit behind.

While they’ve got pink and blue bats and American flag hats, MLB has never been outspoken about critical issues except steroids-maybe.  MLB is still a largely popular league despite slipping ratings, and has a wide fanbase. With that fanbase, you’re going to run across a lot of what are generically called “Middle America” types. They live everywhere, though.   Simply turning a team’s avatar purple and saying “bullying is bad, especially for LGBT youth” is tantamount to making a large political declaration to many people.

Deadspin made a post Thursday highlighting some responses on the Atlanta Braves facebook page. Expectedly, they were homophobic and largely misinformed.  Not to limit it to just a “Southern” fanbase, the Twitter account @BestFansStLouis culled some Cardinals responses. An overwhelming amount of them ran along the same lines as posts on the Braves’ page. Despite the negativity, I am excited that leagues are taking this step.

We’re awhile away from a league outright saying “We fully support gay marriage”. Republicans buy tickets, too, and the leagues don’t want to outright lose a segment of their market population.  They’re working on creating values in a younger generation, which will see progress over time.  Young adults are generally for gay rights and like sports, which creates a splendid overlap. The problem right now, in both sports and real life, is the values system held by older people. They set the rules, vote in numbers, and create the discourse. Eventually this will change. It’s happening faster, I think. Unfortunately, it’s not fast enough.

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