If you follow your favorite baseball team on Facebook or Twitter, you probably noticed that on Thursday they changed their avatars to include a purple frame.
The reason? An MLB-wide show of support for GLAAD Spirit Day, which aims to reduce bullying of LGBT youth. Purple is the color of Spirit Day, thus the avatar change.
Teams posted a message like this one:
— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) October 17, 2013
Or this one:
As you can see, the tweets were pretty standard, as was the message: Support kids who are different and who might get bullied because of it. The links take people to the GLAAD Spirit Day page, which talks about the day and encourages people who wish to support to "Go Purple."
Bullying = bad. Especially when kids are being bullied. Anybody who has a child, or a little brother or sister, or niece or nephew can agree with that, right?
Oh, but things aren't so simple on the Internet, where people just love to argue and be offended. As Deadspin documents, the Facebook page of the Atlanta Braves turned particularly ugly in response to the Spirit Day post. Here are a few of the comments:
"Stick to baseball. Stay out of politics. I'm ashamed that they have taken this stance."
"Well, I pulled my son from Boy Scouts due to their support of homosexuality and now guess I am no longer a Braves fan. And yes I will remove myself and refrain from supporting any organization or people who support LGB groups no matter the age!"
"Stupid Braves, stop being political telling us to stand up for something that God clearly condemns. Play baseball and shut up. And no I don't hate gays , just hate their lifestyle."
"How about leaving politics and promotion of an immoral lifestyle out of baseball. Just because you played like sissies against the Dodgers doesn't mean you have to promote them."
The outrage was hardly unique to the Braves. Here are responses from a few other Facebook pages of MLB teams. We should note that plenty of people were supportive of the cause, even if they didn't have the same fervor as the offended. Many just thanked their favorite teams for supporting the cause. Here's the other side:
"LGBTwhatevers are the true bullies" (from Oakland A's Facebook page)
"Are you kidding me! I am against bullying. You have gone too far Phillies. This organization is no longer family friendly. Last time I was at a game the entertainer was very risqué. Let's see if you can fill your stadium with LGBT and fans of pole dancers. You will no longer be getting my money." (from Philadelphia Phillies Facebook page)
"This is stupid I can't believe the Royals have stooped to this." (from the Kansas City Royals Facebook page)
"First you miss the playoffs and now you're going to support a perverted cause like this? I think after 43 years, my days as a Yankee fan are coming to an end." (from the New York Yankees Facebook page)
"No! This is wrong! I do not support! Will officially be un liking this organization if this is what your supports are!" (from the Houston Astros Facebook page)
Might we just point out that this whole thing is no more intrusive to anyone's life than hearing a song you don't like on the radio, or getting an e-mail from an online retailer you once bought something from, both of which happen every day. Whether you whole-heartedly agree or are deeply offended, consider what this actually is — one message on social media sites overloaded with them.
Frankly, people, if an anti-bullying message on Facebook makes you turn your back on your favorite baseball team, then you weren't much of a fan to begin with. More importantly, if an anti-bullying message on Facebook makes you irate, you're not much of a human being either.
Three teams broke MLB form: the Washington Nationals, Cincinnati Reds and Colorado Rockies. The Nats and Reds did a #SpiritDay post, but didn't include the LGBT part, perhaps anticipating the backlash. The Rockies, meanwhile, just didn't post anything. They did, however, change their avatar. Not that there's a huge difference. They were MLB's only purple team to begin with.
Go purple for #SpiritDay 10/17! Stand against bullying. Join us now.
— Reds (@Reds) October 17, 2013
As you might guess, the teams not fully endorsing the Spirit Day message also got slammed for not taking a stand. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
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