Baseball may, in general, be a sport that has historically been slow to progress and change its ways to keep in step with the times – NL DH, please (*ducks*) – but the sport appears poised to take a small step forward.
Long-time MLB umpire Dale Scott has come out as gay. You can read about that revelation here at OutSports, as well as an interview with Scott, but the most compelling bit is how completely small the reveal actually was. Scott, an umpire for nearly 30 years, simply chose to include as his picture for a Referee Magazine profile a shot of himself and his husband, Mike, who has been his partner for 28 years. Scott wasn’t trying to make some grand, attention-getting announcement – he indicates that MLB and fellow umpires were already well-aware – he simply didn’t think it was right to tell the story of his umpiring career without the man who’d been there right alongside him for all that time.
Good on Scott for not only deciding to be himself, a little more publicly, but also recognizing the highest and best way to address this issue within the context of sports is to reveal it in the manner most deserving: just another detail about a person’s life. To be sure, this reveal is big news, as Scott is an active MLB umpire in a sport that has, as of yet, not been entirely open and accepting of gay athletes. But, where I’d like to see us get, eventually, is to a place where Scott’s reveal would be no more of a story than if a player mentioned his long-time wife in a profile piece. That is to say, it’ll be great when this kind of thing isn’t news, and I appreciate Scott being willing to take a step in moving us toward that place.
For now, this is news, and I implore you to discuss it with respect (or, if you can’t, then bite your tongue and move on to another topic). No one is asking you to be or do anything here. But Scott is a person, a well-liked and respected MLB umpire, and he’s merely sharing a bit of himself at a time when it’s still not entirely accepted to do so. There are still no openly-gay MLB players, after all.
I should add, from a sports perspective: if MLB and his fellow umpires knew for a long time that Scott was gay, clearly they all figured out a way for it not to be a “distraction.” So, if that’s your angle on this topic, let me suggest that it’s probably bogus.