Today the Kansas City Royals, the other 29 Major League Baseball franchises and MLB itself posted a message on their individual Facebook pages in support of an anti-bullying campaign geared specifically to help LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) youth. This was apart of GLAAD’s “Sprit Day” which asked everyone to wear purple in support of anti-bullying towards LGBT people.
The numbers of kids who attempt suicide because they are bullied for being LGBT as opposed to heterosexual kids are insane. Literally insane. Suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst youth and LGBT youth are up to six times more likely to attempt suicide compared to straight kids. Those attempts are due mostly to bullying and rejection by their families.
So, clearly, there is a problem that needs to be solved. Millions of teens and college students are dying as a result of this bullying behavior.
MLB and the Royals sending out a very simple message that was coordinated with a purple border around the Royals profile picture was the very least they could do about this topic. So what could possibly be wrong with MLB (and NFL and NHL and NBA) supporting a group of youths who are a huge target of bullying by their peers?
A lot apparently.
Comments on the Royals Facebook page were mixed and highly charged. Some were even incredibly ignorant of the point the post was trying to make.
Kansas City’s page was not the only one that had these kinds of debates. Deadspin had a post on what was going on over on the Braves’ page, the Dodgers page was a mess, as were the Mets, Yankees, Cardinals, and White Sox. Pretty much all of MLB’s pages.
What is so disheartening is Kansas City should know more than most what kind of impact baseball can have in improving our society and culture. One need take a trip to 18th and Vine and walk through the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and hear Buck O’Neil’s voice to know what power baseball has to help improve the quality of life for a distressed group of people.
Sports can teach lessons no other teacher or entity possibly could.
In college I went to a Kansas football game in Columbia, the last such game played between KU and MU at Missouri’s home field before the rivalry moved to Arrowhead and later killed/suspended/whatever limbo MU-KU rivalry has been dispatched to.
My seat was directly in front of three 10-year-old(ish) boys who immediately recognized I was a Kansas fan. Their awareness of my fandom may or may not have had something to do with the Kansas shirt I was wearing. Very keen on details, these boys were.
As the game wore on the boys started saying things, throwing small bits of trash, lightly kicking me. It never escalated to anything serious, it actually took me a while before noticing what they were doing.
At some point the boys’ grandfather caught on to what the kids were doing and he told them one of the best lessons ever taught at a sporting event.
“You don’t have to like him, but don’t kick him.”
It was brilliant, it said everything those kids needed to know both in the moment and in the future.
We all know there are people in life who have values, beliefs systems, lifestyles, and attitudes to which we do not like, agree, or adhere. We disagree with some of these ideas on such a passionate level that we sometimes cannot even comprehend how one could possibly consider those perspectives to be truth. We even get to the point where we may hate them, and that’s fine.
But under no circumstances should we ever kick them.
Violence – physical or psychological – is never a good thing. There are better ways to work through those feelings than to suppress another human being.
This is all that MLB and GLAAD are trying to say. They’re not asking for anyone to change their beliefs, just asking people stop kicking kids who identify as LGBT. In some cases, literally stop kicking them. Then maybe a few more of those kinds will live past the age of 15 and grow up to be healthy, highly-valuable members of society. And, who knows, maybe as they get older they will end up holding similar views as we do.
Why is this such a tough lesson for people to learn? Why it is so controversial to treat others with kindness? Why people respond so negatively toward a positive message about treating one another better? I don’t know, and it makes me angry.
But I’m not going to kick them.