Athletes Are Hit or Miss on Supporting Gay Rights For Spirit Day

Being anti-bullying is good, but let's get specific: Spirit Day is about LGBT safety.

(Noberto Cuenca/Getty)

Oct 17, 2013· 2 MIN READ
Shaya Tayefe Mohajer is TakePart's News Editor.

Clicking through the major sports league's sites this morning—something I never do, truth be told—I kindof expected to see America's leading athletes standing up for LGBT youth on Spirit Day.

My expectations weren't completely unfounded: Earlier this week, rights group GLAAD had an exciting announcement that just about every professional sports league is supporting Spirit Day. They said all the majors will be spreading the word "about stopping anti-LGBT bullying via social media."

Most professional sports leagues put up purple-tinged profile pictures on Facebook, and a sent out tweet or two. Considering the role of professional players in the lives of so many young people, I was hoping some of America's sports heroes had taken the message a bit further, so I went digging.

First stop, Major League Baseball's site, where a video post narrated by Mets players decried bullying in honor of Spirit Day... but the players all stopped short of making any mention of sexuality or gender at all. Which is kindof the whole point of Spirit Day, I thought.

Tangentially, I'm told by people who actually like baseball that the Mets are terrible so this wasn't a great "get" as far as celebrity endorsements go, but I cannot personally confirm the stats there and imagine it's subject to some (super boring) debate. But I digress. At the very least, it might have been nice to see some recycling of the "It Gets Better" videos that MLB teams recorded a while back.

My affection for futbol only grew after seeing the above video on their good deeds-noting blog, MLS WORKS—they actually mention sexuality, which makes it a little more to the point than the MLB's effort. Hooray for soccer's support for the likes of Robbie Rogers, who became the first openly gay athlete to play in a U.S. professional team sports league in May.

But the video isn't anywhere to be found on the MLS' home page, which would be a nice place for something that deserves attention. When I checked before noon, the soccer league's Facebook page and Twitter page had no mention of Spirit Day, either. So much for social media solidarity.

Although openly gay Olympic soccer champ Abby Wambach led the United States to gold—and married fellow player Sarah Huffman this month—U.S. Women's Soccer was silent on Spirit Day, with no mentions on Facebook or Twitter, either.

In other cases, the lip service was fairly minor.

The NBA changed its iconic silhouette-of-Jerry West logo to have a purple background and put up two tweets and a Facebook post linking to GLAAD's Spirit Day site. No video of players coming forward to talk about gay rights for players in a meaningful way—even though the NBA has had a bit of a problem with players using gay slurs. Ahem.

And in case you're wondering: Jason Collins, who made headlines earlier this year when he became the first NBA player ever to come out as gay, is still a free agent without a contract. Just sayin.

I was starting to get a little bummed out about how low profile some of the pro-athlete support seemed until I saw this NHL player's video.

And then I found a bunch of great content aimed at ending homophobia in sports at You Can Play Project, too.

Way to not get shown up by the ladies of "Hot in Cleveland," professional sports.