Will They Say It? 5 Commissioners Called on to Support a Gay Player

By Lucas Grindley

Originally published on Advocate.com September 22 2012 10:09 AM ET

From left: David Stern of the NBA, Roger Goodell of the NFL, Bus Selig of the MLB, Gary Bettman of the NHL, and Don Garber of the MLS

 

A new campaign is calling on the five commissioners of pro sports leagues to proclaim their support for a gay player coming out. But so far all five are keeping quiet.

The Last Closet launched this week and includes a letter-writing campaign to the heads of the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS and Major League Baseball. OutSports reports that the founders had been trying to get on-camera statements for a year without success and have turned to the public for added pressure.

The letter to the commissioners asks two questions: "Would you invite the gay players in your league to come out?" and "What support systems would you have in place for them once they do?"

Major League Soccer was the first league to add protections for gay players in 2004, followed by the NHL in 2005, the NFL,  NBA and MLB in 2011. And all of the leagues have had to deal with homophobic moments by their players at some point or another.

The most recent example came from the MLB, where Toronto Blue Jays player Yunel Escobar was suspended for three games after wearing "Tu Ere Maricon" — a gay slur in Spanish — written across the black smudges under his eyes.

The suspension is over, but Escobar didn't return to the team's starting lineup on Friday, the Associated Press reports. Manager John Farrell said he had met with Escobar and "it became increasingly clear" that his shortstop would need more time out "to get things in line."