MLS Supporters Groups Are Really Taking Anti-Discrimination Campaign to Heart

Alan Hainkel@@fntncitysoccerContributor IMay 27, 2013

Courtesy Jennifer Shore
Courtesy Jennifer Shore

Sunday was Diversity Day in Major League Soccer and, coincidentally, Robbie Rogers made his debut for the L.A. Galaxy as the first openly gay player in MLS.

The league's "Don't Cross The Line" campaign, with public service announcements during games and on stadium signage featuring some of the league's best players, has been popping up everywhere.

Evidence that supporters groups are taking the campaign seriously have popped up league-wide, most notably in Kansas City on Sunday and earlier this month in Portland.

In addition to the rainbow-colored fabric used to cover the Members Stand at Sporting Park on Sunday, there were also several smaller banners. They included "Wiz on the Haters," "Rainbow Glory," "Be Excellent To Each Other" featuring Abraham Lincoln from "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure," and "Homophobia, Ain't Nobody Got Time For That" featuring Sweet Brown.

On May 12, the Timbers Army held up what looks to me like colored poster board, a different color for each section, to make up their rainbow. They also had a large banner that said "Pride Not Prejudice" in pink.

The players in MLS are an incredibly diverse bunch. According to statistics compiled by the Elias Sports Bureau, 213 of the league's 530 players (or just over 40 percent) are from overseas.

Including the United States and Canada, players represent a total of 61 countries. By comparison, Major League Baseball has 25.7 percent of its players from outside the U.S. and Canada, with a total of 16 countries represented.

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I don't know about anyone else, but I was raised to be color-blind, at least when it came to skin color. When we bleed, it's always red, no matter what you look like on the outside.

It's a lot better than it used to be, but the fact that we need a campaign like "Don't Cross The Line" proves we've still got a long way to go.