Drive on by, BSA -- MLS doesn't need you any more. CREDIT: Nick Laham/Getty Images
Last week, I authored a piece condemning MLS for a partnership deal made with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), especially after its decision to continue its policy of denying membership to LGBT Americans. While I know that the deal doesn't affect Canada's teams (Besides, Scouts Canada is an open and progressive organization, as opposed to their American counterparts), we here at Waking The Red were shocked by the decision, and were appalled that MLS would even consider such a deal, considering this ongoing issue.
However, good news came this week as late last week MLS announced that they would end their partnership deal with the BSA, effective at the end of the season. While league officials claim that it's for "business reasons" -- it's probably not hard to connect the dots: the decision, and perhaps our damning editorial (ah, we can only hope...) served as a tipping point was one of the big reasons for the deal's death -- and for one, I (and confidently, my fellow WTR contributors) applaud this decision.
For a league that is trying to sell an inclusive atmosphere (having cracked down on both a staffer and a player for sexist and homophobic comments), and have pursued a partnership deal with the You Can Play foundation (which promotes diversity in the locker room) it was almost inconceivable that considering its recent struggles with inclusiveness, that such a league would pursue a deal with the BSA, and would defend it with a flimsy "it's for the kids" rationale.
You can't blame a still-expanding league for looking at different markets -- but the BSA sure as hell was not the tree to bark up for more ticket revenue. I'm willing to chalk it up as a bozo outbreak at the MLS offices in New York, where a lapse of sanity led to someone signing off on this deal, but the announcement of the deal's termination is another sign that at least, for a moment, sanity can reign at MLS offices.
Of course it's not a controversial decision without some controversial comments -- one of the comments I read at the bottom of the Goal.com piece read as follows:
Soccer has been struggling to catch on in America. This asinine decision by Don Garber and MLS ensures that it will continue to struggle. MLS is not endearing itself to middle America by choosing homosexuality over the boy scouts.
The Boy Scouts are producing America's future leaders. The homosexual agenda is not. How many homosexuals are producing the next generation?
Stupid, stupid decision.
One has to wonder -- if an organization is creating the leaders of tomorrow that will be ignorant of what the realities of society is: one that is beginning to accept the diversity of humankind, is this a place for MLS to be tying their boat with? At the end of the day, it's better to err on the side of diversity and inclusiveness, rather than close-mindedness -- and that usually will sell more tickets, unless I've got my economics wrong here.
There was no "homosexual agenda" at play here (because if it was, I didn't get the memo), only good common sense dictated by the demands of the market -- and the BSA's decision simply made MLS's decision much easier, and perhaps made their vision a bit more clear as to what the BSA is really all about. In our modern era, when you choose to close a door on a marginalized group that is already vocal as-is, chances are sympathies, followed by revenue dollars, will disappear -- and with that, any and all good will that the BSA has built up in their history.
A prestigious organization, faced with the challenge of the times, chooses to shut its doors instead of throwing them wide open -- it's not a place where a seemingly-progressive organization like MLS should be throwing their money into, and for once, they have the good sense to pull it back out.