Escobar’s ‘Joke’ Brings Painful Reminder
Whether you accept Yunel Escobar’s explanation that wearing eye black inscribed with ‘tu ere maricon’ was a ‘joke’ at face value or not, the fact of the matter is that he gives us a painful reminder that discrimination is still rampant in many sports across North America.
Despite initiatives like the You Can Play Project that has received support from a lot of professional athletes and NCAA programs, it only takes one stunt like Escobar’s to ruin any kind of progress toward greater tolerance in sports. Even if it was only a joke, it still acts as a deterrent for anyone who might be thinking of publicly announcing that they are gay.
While an official apology was actually given by Escobar on Tuesday, it seemed he spent the majority of the press conference trying to defend his actions and was still not completely sure why his actions were wrong. He even managed to mention that he’s in support of gay people because his decorator and hair stylists are gay and they weren’t offended. I’m sure Yunel won’t be getting any fan mail for keeping the stereotype going from all of the male stylists and decorators in Toronto
Many Spanish speaking people have come to the defence of Escobar backing up his argument that the word has “no meaning” and that the phrase is used casually in a non-derogatory way. That said, Escobar, who is not new to playing in the United States or Canada should know better. When something can be translated to English to mean fa—- then people are going to notice and take offense where necessary. At some point the rational part of him should kick in and ask himself how his teammates, coaches and organization will feel about it and how it will reflect on him. Even if you take the less extreme version of translation like ‘pussy’ or ‘wimp’ it is still not something suitable to be wearing in the field of play or anywhere public
Surprisingly it was Ozzie Guillen who brought some sensibility to the issues (seriously, Ozzie Guillen??!!) by saying “In my house we call that word every 20 seconds. Ive got three kids. For us its like `What’s up bro? What’s up dude? It’s how you say it and to who you say it. But that’s our country. We have to respect this country.” It should be noted that Ozzie knows a thing or two about making insensitive comments as he was suspended earlier in the season by the Miami Marlins for making comments about his respect for Fidel Castro.
Finally, how does the Jays organization come out of this? I think that is still to be determined but for now it seems like they said all of the right things at today’s press conference. Alex Anthopoulos said that the Jays would play a roll in educating players on using homophobic words and that its never acceptable to use such phrases
“I think what came out through all of this is the lack of education. It’s not just an issue in sports, it’s an issue in life.”
It remains to be seen what kind of initiatives that the Jays will come up with to follow through on their promise and what kind of education they are talking about but ideally they will take a a proactive roll in bringing tolerance to the issue.
All of the money that Escobar will lose during his three game suspension will go to You Can Play and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and that’s a good start to help the cause but bringing public awareness should be the Jays biggest contribution. Doing support videos for groups like You Can Play with some of their more prominent stars like Jose Bautista or Brett Lawrie would be ideal. Being visible supporters like the Vancouver Canucks were this year at the Vancouver Pride Parade should also be a goal
At least we’re talking about the Blue Jays in September.