New York Times columnist Tyler Kepner accused the Tampa Bay Rays of allowing a few players to undermine the team’s support for the gay community by allowing them to opt-out of wearing the team’s pride logo last weekend.
Kepner worried that “something was missing” when Rays pitchers Brooks Raley and Jalen Beeks hit the field without the team’s gay pride patch on their uniforms.
Tampa Bay Rays reliever Brroks Raley (Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
“Raley, Beeks and a few other teammates chose to wear caps and jerseys without the rainbow accents,” Kepner explained.
The columnist went on to relay the players’ decisions to refuse the pride patches based on their faith and quoted Jason Adam as saying that he, at least, loves people who support the gay lifestyle but that he simply doesn’t want any part in encouraging that lifestyle.
Kepner approved of the Rays’ effort to support the LGBTQ agenda and to “prioritize clubhouse harmony.” But he noted that the players undermined the harmony.
Tampa Bay Rays reliever Jalen Beeks (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
“Yet by allowing the players to opt out of the promotion — and to use the platform to endorse an opposite viewpoint — the Rays undercut the message of inclusion they were trying to send,” Kepner wrote. “Words like “lifestyle” and “behavior” are widely known tropes often interpreted as a polite cover for condemning gay culture.”
Kepner quoted an author who blasted religious people for exercising their freedom of religion.
“When people use their interpretation of religion to justify discrimination against people for the way they were born, it’s really an indictment of them and their faith,” sports author Andrew Maraniss wrote. Maraniss added that “Acknowledging that people are people and all fans are welcome” is “not something you should be able to opt out of.”
Kepner admitted that many fans just want baseball players to play ball. But too bad.
“All of this can be exhausting for fans who would rather take their sports without politics, yet an event like Pride Night should stand apart,” he wrote. “It is meant to be a collective show of unity, without judgment, yet some players were allowed to send a different message.”
In the end, Kepner was happy that “karma” served the Rays a lesson.
“In any case — if you believe in such things — karma got the last word on Saturday,” he wrote. “The relievers in the standard-issue uniforms immediately gave up a two-run lead, sending the home team to defeat.”