The Civil Rights Game
Since 2007, Major League Baseball has been hosting an annual Civil Rights Game. It celebrates the breaking of the color barrier some 65 years ago and everyone celebrates how much diversity Major League Baseball has brought to the world. In its short history, it has been hosted twice in Atlanta, Memphis and Cincinnati. All three are hotbeds of continued divisiveness. The first Civil Rights game was the St. Louis Cardinals vs. the Cleveland Indians. An interesting choice, as the Indians have the most racist mascot in all of sports.
Now, the MLB does deserve some props and the All-American Pastime has become more of a world sport. Sure, minorities are not well represented in the front offices, and I believe Magic Johnson is the first black owner, or at least the PR face, of a ball club. It does evolve, probably not as fast some folks want, but it does better than other front-facing industries for example, the Movie and Television industry.
Today during the Civil Rights game, will civil rights be discussed or just celebrated? Currently in baseball, there are 0 openly gay athletes. Only two have ever come out. Could this be the next barrier to overcome? In the TV Show “Arliss” a decade or so ago, when a pitcher wants to come out they consult Billy Bean, an retired openly gay baseball player who says something to the effect of “No dad is going to point to me and tell his son he wants him to grow to be like me. The world isn’t ready.”
But the world will only be ready until someone does it. Was the whole world ready for Jackie Robinson Fernando or Sandy Koufax?
The problem is that the player to come out has to be AWESOME, a superstar. And it has to happen in a city where being out isn’t that big of a deal. Some place like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, New York. It also has to be a club with a morally strong front office, because in any sport players can be bigots.
It will be tough, this player will face hatred form the ignorant, catcalls, boos and taunting. But as each player comes out, it will become easier.
It will be tough, this player’s stats will have to speak louder than their orientation.
It will be tough, just like it was for Jackie, Sandy and even.. Magic Johnson. He was the first sports figure to “come out” with HIV. But you probably forgot about that already.