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Celebrating Sports Fans, No Matter Who They Love or Who They Are

Courtesy of Geoff Burke (USA TODAY Sports)

As Pride Month comes to an end, the sports world is in shock as FIFA has announced on June 30, that captains cannot wear the “OneLove” armband in the Women’s World Cup this July. The “OneLove” armband was also banned from the Men’s World Cup held in Qatar last year. Instead, captains can opt to wear a different band that represents one of eight causes that FIFA wants to represent in this year’s World Cup. None of the eight options are related to the LGBTQ community, which creates a lack of visibility for a community that contributes so much to the sport. This announcement has caused controversy as people feel that political and religious views have no place in soccer and that captains should be allowed to support the causes they care about on and off the pitch without fear of sanctions.

Courtesy of Sky Sports

Soccer is not the only sport facing backlash for decisions that exclude the LGBTQ community. The Texas Rangers have faced controversy for not hosting a Pride night like many baseball teams did during the month of June. They have defended their choice saying they do not feel the need to celebrate a specific community of people and want their games to be inclusive for all. Many people have supported the Rangers’ decision while others were upset by the lack of support for the LGBTQ community.

Courtesy of Chase Agnello-Dean (NHLI/Getty Images)

Recently, the NHL announced a ban on specialty jerseys during warmups. This ban comes from some players refusing to wear Pride night jerseys during this last season. Though the ban is on all specialty jerseys, the jerseys are often designed by artists from marginalized groups who feel upset and hurt by this decision. The ban has been cited to avoid distractions from Pride Night boycotts, but the use of the word “distraction" has led to backlash from members of the LGBTQ community who simply want to be accepted and seen. As the ban holds up, members of the LGBTQ community feel they are not welcome at the rink. Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers has said the ban is disappointing.

“I know in Edmonton, in our dressing room, we strongly feel hockey is for everybody and that includes the Pride nights and stuff like that.”

Courtesy of Stu Forster (Getty Images Europe/Getty Images)

It is cases like these which have come about in recent months that reveal how sports, like many other industries, are willing to celebrate the queer community during the month of June, but do not feel the need to during the course of the rest of the year. Celebrating the queer community is more than changing your logo to be the colors of the rainbow. It is time for sports to recognize they have a platform that can be used to embrace marginalized communities. No matter who you are, if you are at a game or match, you are a fan, and you should feel welcome as a fan in any space you are at.

Courtesy of Angel City FC

Sports should be using their platform to highlight all their fans, especially those in marginalized communities. Already, sports have utilized artists to design special jerseys in order to highlight specific cultures. Studies show that people are more likely to support teams that support the LGBTQ community as 56.1% of participants in a survey would have a positive reaction to a team that supported the queer community. By partnering with organizations that advocate for LGBTQ rights and highlighting artists and individuals within the community at games and events, sports can help make the world a better and more accepting space for all. So with Pride Month being over with, it is time to continue to celebrate all sports fans without the incentive of a trend as sports are something that connect us all.

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