2013 Major League Soccer MVP and US Mens National Team player Chris Wondolowski has joined other Bay Area athletes to star in a video produced by Comcast SportsNet for the You Can Play Project.
Wondo, along with players from the Raiders, 49ers, Sharks, Warriors, Giants, and A’s, share the message that athletes are welcome on their teams no matter their sexual orientation. Every Bay Area major professional team is represented.
The ads are were produced by Comcast SportsNet Bay area along with the You Can Play Project. CSN Bay Area and CSN California both broadcast San Jose Earthquakes games so look for the spots on upcoming broadcasts.
You Can Play Founder Patrick Burke told USA Today: “We absolutely want to take this from the Bay Area to other cities. There’s no reason this shouldn’t go from the Bay Area to L.A., to Toronto, to Boston, to Chicago. There’s no reason it shouldn’t be done in every city.” Other regions for Comcast SportsNet cover the Chicago Fire, Houston Dynamo, DC United, New England Revolution, and Philadelphia Union, so here’s to hoping that this is the first of many videos like this to hit the airwaves.
Robbie Rogers recently visited the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, and he spoke with MTV Act, the network’s blog that encourages viewers to take action on issues they care about.
He talks a future with other athletes coming out, hurtful things he heard in locker rooms, his coming out process, and his return to play with the LA Galaxy.
Robbie Rogers will also feature on the premiere of MLS Insider on the NBC Sports Network this Friday evening, and an upcoming episode of ESPN’s Outside the Lines with Julie Foudy. It’s great to see him moved to put himself out there like this. Hopefully some athletes struggling with their own sexuality are hearing what he has to say and gaining comfort and strength from his words.
MTV Act has more videos in their blog post, including discussion about gay marriage, the Boy Scouts, and the Move Beyond It Campaign. The blog will have more video to come from Rogers’ trip to the Gay and Lesbian center, which included a stop by its facility for homeless youth.
Major League Soccer, along with the MLS Players Union, becomes the second major league to partner with the You Can Play Project.
Today Major League Soccer and the MLS Players Union announced a partnership with the You Can Play Project, becoming the second major league to do so.
Via the MLS/YCP release, League Commissioner Don Garber said:
The diversity found in our League has always been a point of pride for us. Our MLS WORKS ‘Don’t Cross the Line’ initiative is a strong statement that we are a league that stands against discrimination. We are proud to partner with You Can Play to ensure that all of our fans and players know that MLS is committed to providing a safe environment where everyone is treated equally, and with dignity and respect.
The You Can Play Project will become a go-to resource for MLS and the Union when it comes to LGBT issues in the league, providing resources directly to athletes. You Can Play will provide training to teams, players, and academies when requested as well as providing hard copies of materials to players through their clubs and Union. Resources will include education on LGBT issues, social media training, and answers to common questions athletes may have.
You Can Play will serve as a confidential and anonymous resource for Major League Soccer players, whether it be a gay player looking for help with issues around his own sexuality, or a straight player who has questions and needs someone open to discussing concerns honestly.
Prior to this official announcement, we’ve seen You Can Play work hand in hand with Major League Soccer and the San Jose Earthquakes as it provided diversity training to not only Alan Gordon after his use of a gay slur on the field, but also to the entire team and academy players. One thing that You Can Play sets as a guiding principle is to always have an out athlete as one of its speakers, and lacrosse player Andrew Goldstein joined YCP co-founder Patrick Burke in speaking to the Quakes. From all accounts it was a great experience for everybody involved.
From fans’ perspectives, look for more MLS teams to make videos for You Can Play, You Can Play Nights to happen in stadiums, and a presence of You Can Play on the league’s website.
Some other quotes from the announcement:
Bob Foose, Executive Director, MLS Players Union: “The MLS Players Union is proud to formalize a partnership with You Can Play. Our players strongly believe that, as the world’s most popular game, soccer should be open to everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation. We as a Union are committed to expanding our outreach to ensure that all players and fans feel welcome in MLS as we continue to expand our dedicated and diverse fan base.”
Patrick Burke, Co-founder and President, You Can Play: “This partnership with MLS and the MLS Players Union confirms the message that MLS will not tolerate discrimination of any kind inside the locker rooms, on the field or in the stands. We will be able to provide vital resources directly to the players, while also ensuring that every soccer fan feels welcome to attend MLS events.”
Todd Dunivant, LA Galaxy Defender and Union Executive Board member: “As MLS players, we believe that our clubs are strongest when everyone feels safe and included in the locker room. In addition, we love our fans and want all of them to feel safe in our stands. We are excited to work with You Can Play to ensure that both our locker rooms and our stadiums are welcoming to the LGBT community.”
Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo is having a Pride Night once again this year, and once again they are doing an amazing job of it.
Plenty of other teams have been having Pride Nights over the last few years, but the Dynamo blend together a number of elements together in a perfect combination that what they do can be held up as an example for other clubs to follow:
1) Timing. The Dynamo don’t do their Pride in the Park night on a randomly selected date; they do it at a match as close as they can get to Pride Houston’s annual festival and parade. It’s also an official part of the Pride Houston festivities, integrated into everything that goes on throughout the city to celebrate the LGBT community.
All throughout May we asked Major League Soccer players to sign onto our Allies List. Now that the campaign is wrapped up it’s time to look at the numbers.
Before May: 80 listed allies in MLS.
After May: 135 listed allies in MLS (an increase of 55, or 69% growth!)
Before May: Two teams only had one ally a piece.
After May: The lowest number of allies on any team is four.
Before May: One team had eight allies, the most of any team.
After May: Two teams have eleven allies, two have ten, and four have nine. (Real Salt Lake and the New England Revolution are the teams at the top, if you’re the competitive type. )
Every team added at least one ally, with the LA Galaxy adding the most with six.
Thank you to everyone who helped recruit in May!
Of course we’ll continue asking MLS players and players from other leagues to sign on. We’ll take a break from doing a dedicated push and pick things back up again. Also, if you’re willing to help let us know; we tend to focus on MLS because they curate Twitter lists better than any other league.
“Join the Pride” is a mantra for Real Salt Lake that played itself out over the weekend as the club supported Utah Pride and its Grand Marshal David Testo.
Testo is the first Major League Soccer alumnus to come out of the closet as well as the first out man to be elected to the US Soccer Athletic Council. He serves on the board of the You Can Play Project, too. He told Utah Pride:
I’m very honored and proud to be a part of such a special event like Pride in Utah. For me it is special because I know where the country stands right now and it’s a very pivotal moment for LGBT people. The movement we are trying to create towards equality is like a snowball turning into an avalanche and Salt Lake City is a place where this message is so important. I hope I can help whoever needs it, be an inspiration for others, and spread the word of equality and acceptance.
To say that the past week has been a whirlwind would be a bit of an understatement.
It was a stormy afternoon in Austin, Texas, last Friday. I thought I had caught a break in the rain and headed home only for the skies to open up again while I was riding the bus. I was soaked to the bone when I arrived in my apartment and after a week when I had to work both day and night shifts at my job, I was drenched, tired, and generally miserable.
Of course, the news started coming across Twitter while I was taking a long shower to warm up a bit. The LA Galaxy would be holding a press conference the next day and the buzz was that it was going to be an announcement of the trade for Robbie Rogers. I booked a flight.
It was JetBlue, so I could keep the television tuned to ESPN where SportsCenter featured Rogers hourly, calling it “sports history.” I got a little choked up when I stepped into the terminal and Rogers’ face was on a series of televisions in the airport bar. A crazy weekend was ahead.
May is done, and we wrap up our MLS team-by-team recruitment for our Allies List with another team with seven, Toronto FC.
Toronto made an amazing You Can Play video last year with lots of participants speaking multiple languages in addition to players joining our list in other ways. Their seven are Justin Braun, Richard Eckersley, Logan Emory, Stefan Frei, Darren O’Dea, Ryan Richter, and Luis Silva. Braun also posed for NOH8 with Philadelphia’s Michael Lahoud when both were at Chivas USA.
Yesterday we gained our fiftieth new ally for May. Today we continue a week of looking at teams with the most allies before this drive with the Philadelphia Union.
Eight Union players are on the allies list, including one recruited by a fan who asked just a few weeks ago: Danny Cruz, Michael Farfan, Ray Gaddis, Michael Lahoud, Sebastien Le Toux, Zac MacMath, Amobi Okugo, and Carlos Valdes. Michael Lahoud also participated in the NOH8 Campaign, being the first professional athlete to pose for a picture with a teammate.
Editor’s note: We won’t be recapping every game Robbie Rogers plays, but last night presented a unique opportunity: MLS’ first out player taking the field with another out player in attendance. Stephen Bickford recaps the match for us.
On Wednesday night, the Galaxy traveled to Cary, NC to take on the NASL’s Carolina Railhawks in the US Open Cup third round. The Galaxy’s lack of respect for the Railhawks, and the US Open Cup was extremely apparent, as the team traveled without head coach Bruce Arena, assistant Dave Sarachan, and the vast majority of their first team.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a blatant show of disrespect to an opponent, or to the game of football as Arena & Co. displayed with his lack of involvement and obvious disinterest in a perceived inferior competition, against an inferior opponent. One begs to ask, if you don’t care about the US Open Cup, why participate in the tournament at all?