“You can support the LGBTQ community without having to wear a hat, a T-shirt, or a jersey.”
In this Year of Consumer Backlash, it may go down as one of the biggest coups of 2023. While Americans bring the country’s mightiest brands to their knees, Major League Baseball has decided to dodge the flak, quietly ordering teams to ditch their Pride uniforms entirely.
The directive, which was issued at the height of the NHL’s players’ revolt, signals that the tables have, in fact, turned.
At a time when Americans are pummeling pro-trans companies, the sports world has been working since January to put out the fires lit by defenseman Ivan Provorov. The Russian, who triggered a moral uprising across North American locker rooms by refusing to wear a Pride jersey, was the catalyst for a league-wide mutiny no one saw coming.
By the end of the regular season, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman admitted that the league would have to reevaluate whether it would continue coercing players to wear a political message they personally opposed.
Major League Baseball has apparently decided to avoid the media circus all together, sending a blanket ban under the radar to every team in February. The news only started circulating last week when the Tampa Bay Times warned fans that Pride Night would look different this year. “Under a new MLB directive, players won’t wear rainbow-themed caps or uniform patches, which led to controversy a year ago.”
That controversy, which involved a bullpen of Christian pitchers, sent the first ripples of disapproval through the ranks of the professional sports world. Now, after Provorov, the revolution that started pulverizing Pride in corporate America is bending even major league sports to its will.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, the plans for June were scrapped at an owners meeting in February, shortly after hockey’s New York Rangers and New York Islanders signaled a massive sea change in the fight over Pride jerseys.
Both Big Apple teams announced that they’d be forgoing the tradition in one of the bluest cities in America, shocking owners everywhere. Suddenly, the handful of skaters who’d taken a stand were on the verge of upending the sports’ status quo.
While that was unfolding, baseball officials looked with a wary eye toward June, ultimately deciding that the MLB would no longer use its uniform space “to promote specific causes that were not league-driven, such as Mother’s Day or to honor Jackie Robinson.”
The Times’ Marc Topkin talked to Billy Bean, Major League Baseball’s senior vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion, who said after watching the NHL battle these off-the-ice distractions, “I think the suggestion from the commissioner was clear.”
Family Research Council’s Joseph Backholm applauded the league for finally backing off its LGBTQ+ tyranny. “This is a great example of what happens when a few people show some courage. It was always unreasonable to ask players to communicate a message they disagreed with—and when a few said no, the league was forced to justify what they were doing and couldn’t. Everyone but the bullies win in this situation.”
Under a “preexisting agreement,” Topkin says, two cities at the heart of LGBTQ+ advocacy in California—the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants—have special permission from headquarters to wear their Pride-themed patches this year. (For Dodgers’ fans, who are disgusted by the team’s alignment with the Catholic-mocking Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, that comes as no surprise.)
In a conversation with Topkin, Rays’ team President Brian Auld admitted last year’s controversy was a learning experience. “We wouldn’t pretend to always get everything exactly right,” he said candidly. “But, overall, we felt like last year’s Pride Night … encouraged a lot of great conversation. And we think that’s necessary in this area.”
Conversation was exactly what players had been denied in these decisions. With the exception of one team—the Texas Rangers—they were forced to swallow their convictions and wear a symbol in direct contradiction to their moral and religious convictions. Only when a few brave athletes stood up and pushed back did anyone stop to consider what real inclusion looks like.
Pitcher Tyler Glasnow emphasized that point, telling the Times that this whole debate “opened up a lot of good dialogue in the clubhouse, and it was important for everyone to talk about what they needed to. … You really don’t have to agree,” he pointed out. “But I think everyone just has to make room for everyone else. And regardless of what you believe, you should be able to enjoy your time here and just be able to come and enjoy a baseball game.”
That was essentially P.K. Subban’s message to the NHL when he spoke out in early April. The defenseman-turned-commentator was adamant, “We cannot push everyone to be an activist—we need to be very careful. I feel people pick and choose what they want to talk about, and I don’t like it when we put the onus on athletes to be activists.”
“I’m not saying it is right or wrong to wear the [Pride] jersey,” Subban said, “we have just got to be very careful how we push players to do things. You can support the LGBTQ community without having to wear a hat, a T-shirt, or a jersey.”
For now, baseball’s decision comes as roaring confirmation of the power Americans are flexing across the social spectrum. After years of quietly enduring the extremists, this anti-Pride tour de force continues to be a thing to behold. May it continue to humble every industry that poisons our pastimes, tortures our values, and brainwashes our children.