ESPN commentator Sarah Spain on Monday blasted Tampa Bay Rays baseball players who refused to wear Pride Month rainbow patches on their uniforms as "bigoted" toward LBGTQ people and said they're full of "religious exemption BS."
What are the details?
During the "Around the Horn" segment, host Tony Reali read part of a statement from one of the players who decided against wearing the rainbow-colored patches — pitcher Jason Adam, who called it a "faith-based decision":
So it’s a hard decision. Because ultimately we all said what we want is them to know that all are welcome and loved here. But when we put it on our bodies, I think a lot of guys decided that it’s just a lifestyle that maybe — not that they look down on anybody or think differently — it’s just that maybe we don’t want to encourage it if we believe in Jesus, who’s encouraged us to live a lifestyle that would abstain from that behavior ...
The rest of Adams' statement — which Reali didn't read — added: "... just like [Jesus] encourages me as a heterosexual male to abstain from sex outside of the confines of marriage. It’s no different. It’s not judgmental. It’s not looking down. It’s just what we believe the lifestyle he’s encouraged us to live, for our good, not to withhold. But again, we love these men and women, we care about them, and we want them to feel safe and welcome here.”
What did Spain say?
When Reali asked Spain for her take on the controversy, she replied — as if reading from a prepared statement — that "Pride is about inclusion, so you don't love them, and you don't welcome them if you're not willing to wear the patch. And calling it a 'lifestyle' reveals to me that you've done not even a modicum of research or understanding on this topic. It's what tends to happen when a privileged class isn’t affected by things. This is not just about baseball. That religious exemption BS which is used in sport and otherwise also allows for people to be denied health care, jobs, apartments, children, prescriptions, all sorts of rights."
Spain followed that up with some rather hard-to-follow declarations: "And so we have to stop tiptoeing around it because we’re trying to protect people who are trying to be bigoted from asking for them to be exempt from it, when the very people that they are bigoted against are suffering the consequences."
Reali apparently was looking for some clarification when he replied, "When you say 'trying to be bigoted'" before Spain jumped back in: "They're trying to use religious exemptions to affect the opportunities, services, available resources for people who are LGBTQ+."
She added that the Rays players are "double talking if they're saying 'you're welcome' while also saying that 'we don't encourage' or 'we disagree with it,' especially when they're devout people of every single religion that also welcome and are open to people who are born gay."
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Others on the left were equally incensed at the Rays' players who chose not to wear the Pride colors on their jerseys. LBGTQ sportswriter Cyd Zeigler tweeted, "Will someone please show me the Bible passage that says 'Thou shalt not wear a rainbow on thou's clothing'..." Zeigler also tweeted that "players don't get to just choose what uniform they wear. That's the point of the word 'uniform.' Welcome to sports."
Outkick opined that the "Around the Horn" program "has become the go-to ESPN show to spread woke talking points without an ounce of pushback," and that Reali "handpicked the wokest 'talents' on ESPN’s roster to make up the show’s rotation."