The homophobic slurs on Yunel Escobar’s eyeblacks are indicative of a larger problem with sports culture — something that needs to be addressed rather than simply shouldering blame to the Blue Jays and Escobar himself.
The controversy arose when Escobar, the shortstop for the Jays, wrote “You are a faggot” in Spanish on his eye blacks, which are worn by baseball players to shield their eyes from the sun. The incident displayed a clear lack of judgment on the part of Escobar and his teammates.
After all, how could they not have known that he was going out on the field with a homophobic slur clearly displayed on his face?
The fact that there has been such a public uproar about Escobar’s actions is one of the only positive things to result from the situation.
Escobar has been suspended for three games and has signed up to partake in outreach activities promoting sensitivity and tolerance on these issues. His salary for the missed games will also be donated to causes combatting homophobia.
While this is something, it’s nowhere near enough.
Escobar will likely be off the field for less than a week. Players have been suspended longer for lesser offences.
His light punishment shows how little importance this issue has in the sphere of sports — an issue that points to larger problems in sports culture.
Just last year, the pitching coach for the Atlanta Braves, Roger McDowell, was suspended by Major League Baseball after making lewd gestures perceived to be homophobic.
This intolerance is further exemplified on a regular basis through hazing, initiation activities and locker room banter.
With this culture remaining intact, it’s evident why few professional sports players “come out” on the field, let alone express support of the gay community. While the rest of society is moving in a direction where homophobia and other forms of discrimination are ostracized, these attitudes are still commonplace within sports culture.
This issue requires leadership. Someone in the field, whether it’s hockey, baseball or basketball, needs to take a stand and say that the culture of homophobia in sports is not ok.
Ultimately, it’ll take far more than just some donations and a brief suspension to fix the
problem — a larger conversation needs to be started in the professional sports community.
— Journal Editorial Board
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