With the exception of a very small handful of teams, Major League Baseball has been notoriously sluggish when it comes to speaking out about bullying, particularly of gay youth.
The “It Gets Better” campaign of a few years ago — adopted by several teams and almost the Minnesota Twins — stalled when the inspiration behind it, Dan Savage, gave a speech in Seattle in 2012 criticizing people who cite Bible passages when defending their opposition to rights for homosexuals.
Today, however, MLB took a stand, three weeks after its regular season ended, by changing colors on logos and avatars on its social media accounts.
Like this, for example.
It coincides with Spirit Day, according to a news release from MLB today.
It was started in 2010 by a high school student looking for a way to show support for LGBT youth and take a stand against bullying. With help from GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), millions of teachers, workplaces, media personalities and students wore purple, a color that symbolizes spirit on the rainbow flag. Spirit Day now occurs every third Thursday in October.
That’s right in the heart of MLB crunch time, as you might have noticed, and once again it means the national pastime can help use a powerful stage to show its support.
You will see it tonight at Game 5 of the National League Championship Series between the Cardinals and Giants at AT&T Park (8 p.m. ET, FOX), where a sellout crowd will be prompted on the scoreboard and by a public-address announcement to learn more about the day’s meaning and how to be involved.
You will see the purple hue in baseball via the profile pictures of @MLB and all official team Twitter accounts, and you will see it on official MLB Facebook and Instagram pages. #Postseason and #SpiritDay go hand in hand.
This is the third consecutive year that MLB has been involved, but you can sense a deeper involvement than ever as an institution and a resolve that led out basketball player Jason Collins to say this month, “They’re really trying to create the change in the culture of baseball.”
Billy Bean, the former player, who was hired last summer to improve baseball’s culture, says today’s hue signals a change.
Spirit Day participation is a victory for all of us, but I know that everyone is still not ready to jump on board, and it’s my job to find a way to make that happen. I can’t help but think about when I was playing. As a man struggling in the closet, seeing baseball supporting this initiative would have been a game changer for me.
“This makes me sick,” a commenter on MLB replied. “He’s (Commissioner Bud Selig) done more to ruin the game of baseball than anyone in history; and, now he has to join the 2% ‘rainbow’ crowd in their agenda of moral decadence and perversion being rammed down the throats of the other 98% of America!”
It’s going to take a lot more than a nice shade of purple.