Football League’s First Pride Game Shows the Power of Gay Athletes Coming Out
The A-League – Australia’s top tier of professional football – will stage its first-ever Pride Games this Saturday, when Adelaide United’s women host Melbourne Victory and the men’s host Central Coast Mariners.
The event is part of the league and the club’s continued message of inclusion following the release of Adelaide United player Josh Cavallo, who was the league’s first active male athlete to come out publicly at the end of the year. last. Without Cavallo’s coming out, this event would not take place on Saturday.
“It’s phenomenal, it’s something I could only dream of,” Cavallo said earlier this week. “And knowing that my football club – Adelaide United – is hosting an event which is a Pride Game, it really touched my heart and means a lot to me and the whole LGBTI+ community around the world.”
It’s great to see the club making this effort. The Pride Games are a way for sports to publicly demonstrate their affiliation with the LGBTQ community, be it players or fans. Pride Games have popped up all over the world, although nowhere are they more prevalent than in North American professional sports where they have been held for over two decades.
While the A-League just hosted its first Pride Game, Major League Soccer has been hosting them for years. In 2018, three quarters of MLS teams organized a Pride Game,
A year earlier, both U.S. national teams wore Pride kits during games.
Virtually every team in Major League Baseball, the NHL, NWSL, WNBA, and NBA has also held a Pride game, some of them for a decade or two. Pride Games in North America are so common that some people even wonder if they still have an impact.
Hell, virtually every professional sports league in the United States marched at the York Pride March in New York City in 2018 and again the following year for World Pride. World Pride is in Sydney next February (TIP! TIP!).
Part of the emergence of Pride Games in the United States and Canada is surely the presence of our players. When Robbie Rogers took the field for the LA Galaxy in 2013 – almost a decade ago – he left no doubt that there were gay people playing in MLS. Five years later, Colin Martin came out at a Minnesota United Pride Game, reinforcing the fact.
Other former athletes – Matt Hatzke, David Testo, Matt Pacifici – have distinguished North America with the number of professional male soccer players who have played and gone.
Jason Collins’ coming out was a wake-up call for the NBA in 2013; He has worked very closely with the league and many teams since. Other North American events, such as the formation of the You Can Play Project, also propelled American and Canadian sports forward; Outsports has hosted Pride Games in baseball, basketball and soccer.
Likewise, Cavallo is having a positive effect in Australia. He was the first active A-League player to come out publicly just a few months ago. Sharing her story had a similar response in Australia, with the league, clubs and other entities realizing they can – and should – do more to demonstrate inclusion in their sport.
Make no mistake: without Cavallo’s courage and willingness to come out as gay, this Pride Game wouldn’t be happening this Saturday.
As we’ve been saying for years at Outsports, there’s no more powerful way to demonstrate the inclusive nature of sport than LGBTQ people going out. When we go out, sports react positively.
It’s now up to other A-League clubs to ensure there will be Pride Games throughout the league next season.