Continuing one of the longest running traditions in LGBTQ sports, the 2022 edition of the Gay Softball World Series commences in Dallas this week with the Opening Ceremonies on Monday and division play beginning the next day.
The GSWS has been one of the premiere sporting events for our community since 1977. And this year, there’s an intriguing new partner.
With the 2022 tournament taking place in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, athletic organizations such as the Dallas Sports Commission and Dallas Mavericks have signed on as GSWS sponsors and partners. Also listed among that group as a “Platinum Corporate Sponsor” are…
The Texas Rangers.
Not a single game has been played but we might already have the biggest upset.
As you might recall, the Rangers were the only MLB team in 2022 that didn’t host a Pride Night and they have given no public indication that they’re planning to recognize their LGBTQ fans in the future.
But surprisingly, they’re using their money and their logo to support an LGBTQ sporting event that’s been going strong for more than four decades. At the Platinum level, no less. What’s more, the Rangers are hosting a GSWS Night at Globe Life Field during their game against the Astros on Aug. 30 and the tournament’s block of tickets has sold out.
Despite the efforts of some unnamed executives in the Rangers hierarchy to avoid acknowledging our community, the rainbow has still found its way into their ballpark. Even with the roof closed.
During 2022, the GSWS will play host to more than 250 teams representing 48 different cities. With a sporting event this big taking place in the DFW Metroplex, it’s no wonder the Rangers wanted to be a part of it.
But according to Rafael McDonnell, a Rangers fan and Senior Advocacy, Policy, and Communications Manager for the Resource Center in Dallas, this still doesn’t indicate that the team is going to change its longstanding attitude toward LGBTQ fans.
“The practical side of me remembers that there are high-level folks with the team …above the management who are perfectly content to split the baby down the middle,” McDonnell lamented, “Rangers team officials offer volunteers, fundraising, and give donations but don’t publicly acknowledge those efforts. Or they make dumb PR gaffes like what happened around Spirit Day last year, ignoring that the event was founded to support LGBTQIA youth and speak out against bullying.”
So while the Rangers are doing a bit of work to support one of the longest running traditions in LGBTQ sports, someone at the head of the organization would prefer no one found out about it. Which is why the only place you’ll see their contribution acknowledged is with the big “T” insignia on the GSWS website.
If you’re thinking it’s a bit weird for a major league team to contribute to a philanthropic effort and then try to hide all evidence of it, you wouldn’t be wrong. When MLB holds its annual Stand Up to Cancer observance during the World Series, even Rob Manfred knows enough not to frantically cut away to a bitcoin commercial.
As McDonnell was quick to point out, there are several Rangers staffers who would probably love to play up their support of the GSWS: “There are people with the organization, multiple elements within it, who want to be more inclusive,” he said. “They’ve worked with my employer, Resource Center, on multiple efforts. They’ve given us auction items and done the same for other LGBTQIA organizations here in North Texas. The roadblock is at the highest levels of the team.”
And as long as that roadblock remains in ownership, you’re not going to hear a lot about the Rangers’ efforts to reach out. McDonnell added that his biggest hope for change would be “maybe someone else signing the team’s checks.”
Given the history and prestige of the Gay Softball World Series, it’s easy to see why the Rangers would support it. It’s too bad that this article is doing more to publicize their contribution than they are.