June is Pride Month. Across all industries, organizations are making commitments to increasing tolerance for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
At MarketPryce, our focus is always on sports and making sure all athletes feel included and represented in their off-the-field business pursuits. We also know how important athletes are as role models and how what happens in sports has a lot of power in the outside world. To celebrate Pride Month, we’re highlighting a few different professional sports teams and leagues that are making LGBTQ+ activism a priority.
Seattle’s Sports Franchises Join Forces
Just a few days ago, it was announced that Seattle’s six professional sports teams – the Storm (WNBA), Sounders FC (MLS), Kraken (NHL), Reign (NWSL), Seahawks (NF) and Mariners (MLB) – have formed an alliance to support LGBTQ+ diversity and inclusion in the city.
One prong of their action is an effort to make youth sports a more inclusive environment for young members of the LGBT+ community. They recently announced their public support for the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) and its new gender-inclusive toolkit, a free online resource that includes best practices for supporting a non-discriminative environment for young people. As the sporting icons of their state, this decision holds a lot of weight.
In addition, the group is part of a collaboration with Intentionalist called “Spend With Pride,” which promotes and encourages the community to shop at LGBTQ-owned businesses. Supporters will submit their receipts from shopping at local businesses and if the $25,000 goal is met, all five teams will make a donation to support a local non-profit.
Premier League’s Rainbow Laces
The English Premier League is the only non-US name on this list, but the league has eyes from all over the world on it. Their “Rainbow Laces” campaign first launched in 2013 in collaboration with Stonewall, Britain’s leading LGBTQ+ charity. The league’s Pride celebration, which occurs during December, involves rainbow laces for the player’s cleats, rainbow armbands for the team captains, as well as a variety of on-the-field accessories in the rainbow colorway.
Robbie De Santos, Director of Sport of Stonewall, told CNN in 2019, “The campaign uses sport as a tool to connect with people. We know sport is loved and vital to communities, we want LGBT people to feel just as part of that community – to feel safe, respected and welcome for who they are.”
Stonewall and the EPL are also encouraging fans to be active allies by selling rainbow laces, and fans have jumped at the opportunity. As of November 2020, Stonewall has sold nearly a million pairs. This year, they have new designs for specific identities under the LGBTQ+ umbrella.
WNBA Pride Month Celebration
In an Instagram post on June 1, the WNBA league account mentioned that it was the first pro sports league to establish a Pride platform, and they keep that enthusiasm for the movement up in 2021. The league announced an exclusive Pride apparel in collaboration with Fanatics and GLSEN, an LGBT advocacy group. All league proceeds from the sales of the gear will benefit GLSEN.
Not only will the league be releasing clothing dedicated to LGBTQ+ inclusion, but they’ll be getting support from some of the biggest names in the sports media world. Throughout June, there will be ten nationally televised games dedicated to Pride on ESPN, ABC, and CBS.
WNBA will also conduct league and team ally education sessions on trans inclusivity, in partnership with Athlete Ally. The WNBA has long been a league that values activism, and that is no different this year.
San Francisco Giants Pride Uniforms
MLB teams have had a lot of specialty uniforms in the past, celebrating Mother’s Day and Breast Cancer awareness with pink, Memorial Day with camouflage, Fourth of July with stars stripes, but a team has yet to do a Pride-themed uniform.The San Francisco Giants will make that first step Saturday, June 5 when they wear Pride uniforms for their game.
Giants Manager Gabe Kapler spoke proudly of the decision, saying to AP that he’s “Looking forward to the impact and the support that we can provide for the LGBTQ+ community.”
It’s a fitting place to start because the original six pride colors on the rainbow flag were designed by San Francisco-based artist Gilbert Baker in 1978, and San Francisco has long been an important city of LGBTQ+ rights advocacy.