The Colorado Rockies recently announced the signing of Daniel Murphy, a player that is well known for his postseason success and his controversial comments on Billy Bean in 2015.
As someone that has watched sports my entire life, the debate over morality in sports has always conflicted me. Some of my favorite athletes of all-time could be classified as assholes, but I certainly have grown to appreciate the “good guys” over the years.
Adding religion into the mix only makes this particular debate even more tricky, but I believe that this is a conversation worth having.
For the sake of transparency, I will admit that I am not a religious person. I was raised in a Lutheran household, but I have always been much more interested in the Sunday box score than the Sunday sermon. So, if you are reading this piece and thinking this sounds like the perspective of a snarky millennial that needs to find Jesus, I’m sure I have some relatives that would agree.
That being said, while I do not subscribe to any church, I do consider myself a good person; or at least I try to be. Being a good person can mean a lot of different things to different people, but to me it means accepting I do not know everything and working to constantly grow my mindset.
As a 23-year old straight, white male, the truth is I will never be able to fully comprehend just how hurtful Daniel Murphy’s 2015 comments were to the LGBTQ community.
I can recognize that his statements about the “gay lifestyle,” whatever the hell that means, were rooted in ignorance and preconceived notions about sexuality. I can also recognize that his comments were not necessarily intended to be malicious.
That’s the thing about words though: They hold weight. So, whether Murphy was trying to be hurtful or not, the harsh reality is he said what he said. As Jeff Morton eloquently explained in this article on the Murphy signing, “The phrase ‘gay lifestyle’ is much more damaging because it does something very insidious; the direct implication is being gay is something you can change.”
Obviously, I disagree with Murphy’s beliefs, and although I do support his right to express them, I can also express my belief that the dude is an ignorant jerk. Murphy did not need to comment on Billy Bean’s sexuality because, quite frankly, nobody should ever comment on their peers’ personal lives.
But, perhaps more importantly, if Murphy was so concerned with being a “good christian,” there are countless examples of the Bible saying to love your neighbors and be accepting of all people. Now, do not get me wrong, in no way am I trying to say that Murphy is wrong for being a Christian. Seriously, let’s not go down that path.
Instead, Murphy’s comments were completely selfish, utilizing his prominent position as a baseball player to spread hurtful speech, which had nothing to do with spreading a message of faith. Murphy ostracized someone so that he could rant about his own feelings.
I also don’t condemn the Rockies for signing Murphy, though. The guy one hell of a hitter, and if you watched the Rockies in the postseason last fall, that is exactly what Colorado lacked. As an experienced player that has proven himself in the postseason on multiple occasions, signing Murphy makes sense for a team that wants to score more runs next season.
At the end of the day, the Rockies are in the business of winning ball games, and if Murphy helps the club do so, then most fans are going to be satisfied with the signing. Others will choose not to root for Murphy, no matter how good of a hitter he is.
I guess that’s what makes sports so interesting: There is always a debate to be had.
And in this world of social media, of the microscope being more focused on athletes than ever before, it makes it all the more difficult to be a blind sports fan. Athletes are being caught on tape saying ridiculous, hateful things, or doing even worse things, like performing violent acts. How can a fan root for Murphy and not take his comments on ‘gay lifestyle’ as part of who he is?
People are complicated. Athletes are complicated. And while Murphy may be a solid baseball player, hopefully he realizes that his words have meaning and most people will not stand for bigotry, especially in Colorado.