Don’t Cross the Line 2015 Continues Weak Trend
I remember my excitement three years ago when MLS announced it would be starting “Don’t Cross the Line,” aimed at racism, sexism, and homophobia in soccer. For another year now, words such as that are absent from the campaigns annual public service announcement.
Come on now, MLS, how are people supposed to not cross the proverbial line when you don’t tell them what that line is?
Things in America may not be as bad as elsewhere in the world, but the core issues that were front and center in Don’t Cross the Line still need to be addressed, not watered down to a bunch of feel-good sentiments set to a catchy tune.
Here are Landon Donovan’s words in the first ad in 2012: “No bullying, no racism, no sexism, no homophobia. No excuses, no exceptions.” Where is the language like that now? Did you get rid of it because the Revolution and Dynamo got tired of people pointing out that MLS had an anti-sexism messages while they trotted out cheerleaders in skin-tight outfits?
2013 was a bit less explicit but still had Dwayne De Rosario stating, “We draw the line at discrimination or harassment of any kind, on and off the field.” The watering down continued in 2014 with the strongest statement being Kyle Beckerman’s “We don’t discriminate against anyone, ever.” 2015? A string of happy slappy buzz words.
MLS, you do have homophobia issues. In most matches I’m watching every weekend, fans are chanting a word deemed inappropriate by US Soccer President Sunil Gulati and even the Mexican government says normalizes homophobic rage. And yet you’re afraid to use the word “homophobia” in an ad.
(And as an aside, when’s the last time the league or a club did anything visible as part of their partnership with the You Can Play Project?)
Why not stand up and be a leader against racism by calling it out explicitly? Take the charge ahead of other leagues in a confederation where you send your players to be berated by monkey sounds.
And yes, make your teams take a look at their use of women in club promotions.
Please Major League Soccer, make me excited by your Don’t Cross the Line campaign again, and of the real work you can do to address soccer’s social issues. We can be the leaders. We can be the best.