We’re in an interesting – and extremely unfortunate – time in these United States of America. It is a time when professional sports teams feel compelled to issue statements condemning racism, or something within the Extended Condemning Racism Universe, at least.
Yesterday, NBS Sports’ Bill Baer released a rubric grading each MLB team’s statement on a few key points. I have graded Major League Soccer teams’ statements on the same points. With as little interpretation as possible on my part, here is the scoreboard:
A couple points, starting with the trio lacking statements. Minnesota United responded much later than probably should have been the case, given the George Floyd murder happened in their market, but their lack of an official statement doesn’t mean they’ve been silent: they’ve posted messages from players, as well as resources for fighting racism, etc. Same with Portland (whose social media has been an absolute flood of player, supporter’s group, et al statements retweeted – I can’t speak for whether that’s adequate in the “make a statement” space, but it’s certainly not silence, either), whose resource page is incredible. Montreal did not make an official statement, but posted a message from head coach Theirry Henry. It was clear that they were supporting Henry’s comments, but that he was speaking for himself. Again, I can’t speak to the adequacy of that, but it did not stand as an official club comment. There were other clubs – Orlando City, for example – that posted messages signed by individuals, but clearly posted to be speaking for the club. Splitting hairs here, but I think those distinctions are important. Don’t read the lack of an official statement as a clear negative – they have responded in different ways.
A lot of clubs got a pass on “avoiding respectability politics” (i.e.: “racism is bad, but let us not forget to engage with the racists in kind terms to solve these issues” – you know, bullshit) largely because their statements were too short or vague to even have the opportunity to bring up respectability politics. By contrast, Atlanta United’s statement – signed by owner Arthur Blank, but made on behalf of the club – is essentially nothing more than a paean to respectability politics. There was everything in between.
Again, I tried not to be too interpretive where possible, and I’m passing no value judgments on the presence or lack of any of these specific factors (though my stances on many of them wouldn’t surprise anyone here).
How did your club do?