On the heels of incidents in which members of two Chicago sports teams made antigay
slurs, organizers of the 35th annual Gay Softball World Series have
extended an invitation to White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham and
Jerry Reinsdorf, the owner the Sox and the Chicago Bulls, to attend the
opening day of the gay league's championship August 30.
Beckham made headlines early last week for an antigay incident, and in May, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah was fined $50,000 for shouting an antigay slur at a fan.
Windy City Timesreports that while the White Sox's senior vice president of communications, Scott Reifort, replied that Beckham and Reinsdorf will be unable to attend because of a conflict, he did offer up alternative support, such as an appearance by former White Sox player Ron Kittle or a video message to be recorded by Beckham that could be played at the softball series' opening ceremony.
"Gordon very quickly realized the inappropriateness of his action and very willingly apologized publicly," Reifort said. "I spoke to Gordon about the issue several times, can assure you he learned a very important lesson from the experience and that his apology was heartfelt and sincere."
Ted Cappas, president of Series 2011, the organizers of the softball event, expressed gratitude for Reifort's response and proposed a donation on behalf of the White Sox to Ben Cohen's Stand Up Foundation, which fights antigay bullying.
"The intent of our invitation was to turn a bad situation into something educational and positive," said Cappas. "We included Mr. Reinsdorf because this is his second athlete that has made an antigay slur in the last three months. By no means do we hold Mr. Reinsdorf accountable for the actions of these grown men, but, as a civic and community leader, and owner of the White Sox and Bulls, Mr. Reinsdorf should publicly condemn these actions. Until management and ownership hold their athletes accountable, these incidents will continue."