This week saw new champions crowned in the NBA and NHL, and along with the current champs in the NFL and Major League Baseball, we have four teams who are LGBT-supportive.
The Golden State Warriors won the NBA title on Monday. Team president Rick Welts is openly gay. Head coach Steve Kerr has said he wants gay players to come out. "I think a lot more athletes and people in the sports world will need to come out before we really see the change," he said last year.
Kerr also said that gay slurs needed to be treated the same as racial slurs. "I think the NBA needs to treat it exactly as they would a racist word. It's the same thing, it's discrimination."
The Pittsburgh Penguins won the NHL’s Stanley Cup on Sunday. The team’s LGBT ambassador Chris Kunitz was a key player in the Penguins playoff run and he is the first player since 2005 to win four Stanley Cup titles.
“I think we as an NHL, as a locker room, as an organization, people are ready to make those steps to make people feel included,” Kunitz said about an openly gay NHL player. “It’s something that hasn’t happened, but hopefully for that person, they’re going to feel welcome and feel respected among their teammates. I think our league has done a good job to maybe change the environment and progress us, just as society has.”
The Penguins best player, Sidney Crosby, has been vocal about accepting any teammates who are gay. When asked how a team would deal with questions surrounding a gay player, Crosby said:
“I don't think the questions are the, you just, it's what's right I think. It's about your group. I think the questions are the last thing you worry about. You make sure that everyone understands and that's what it's about. It's about everyone playing and enjoying the game no matter what. That's easy, that's the easy part.”
The defending Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots, have an owner in Bob Kraft who has long supported LGBT rights, as did his late wife, Myra. The team also is donating $25,000 in its sponsorship of this falls’ Gay Bowl, the annual LGBT-oriented national flag football championships.
Finally, in Major League Baseball, the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs have a co-owner who is openly gay in Laura Ricketts. The Cubs have annually sponsored a float in the Chicago pride parade. And the team has had the longest-running LGBT pride night, Out at Wrigley, which first started in 2001.
Four champions, four varying examples of LGBT support, all important and worth noting during Pride Month.