WASHINGTON, August 29, 2012 — Major League Soccer has done so many right things in the last 17 years, but snubbing the Boy Scouts recently was not one of them. As a former Boy Scout and proud father of an Eagle Scout, it saddens me that MLS decided to terminate its relationship with the Boy Scouts of America after less than six months.
The decision by MLS came in July, just days after the Boy Scouts of America affirmed its policy of “not granting membership to open or avowed homosexuals,” a policy that was upheld by the Supreme Court over a decade ago.
MLS said it was cutting its ties with the Boy Scouts with this annoucement: “Major League Soccer’s agreement with the Boy Scouts of America expires at the end of the 2012 season and MLS does not intend the renew the agreement for a variety of business reasons.”
MLS did not elaborate on its reason for cutting ties with the Boy Scouts. It was just a one sentence statement, but it did happen in the same week that Boy Scouts issued its policy on gays, leaving one to assume that the two are connected.
The Boy Scouts policy on gays reflects the United States military’s position until last September. However, the situation of the Boy Scouts is very different from the U.S. military. The Boy Scouts are intrinsically linked to faith groups and churches. The majority of Boy Scout groups meet in churches or at religious facilities. For the BSA to change its policy would have major repercussions.
“The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their right to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers, and at the appropriate time and in the right setting,” said Boy Scouts of America CEO Bob Mazzuca. “While a majority of our membership agrees with our policy, we fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society.”
MLS’s action toward the Boy Scouts certainly went under the radar, and the Boy Scouts quietly took the hit and turned the other cheek.
According to a search of Nexis/Lexis, apart from a few blogs and goal.com, only The Dallas Morning News wrote a short story on the issue. Not even the Associated Press wrote about it.
The alliance between MLS and the Scouts sounded like a great idea. Scouts would get a chance to attend “Scout Night” games at reduced prices and Scout projects and Eagle Scouts would be recognized at matches. There are more than 2.7 million Boy Scouts in the U.S. and 1 million adult volunteers, who in 2011 performed nearly 12 million hours of service, worth $206 million, according to the Boy Scouts of America.
It would have been a great opportunity for MLS to expose soccer to a young audience and win over future fans. But all that appears to have been sacrificed on the altar of political correctness. Sadly, politics seem to seep into everything today. The ruling philosophy seems to be: If you do not believe in my principles, then I will boycott you and work to destroy you.
MLS has certainly welcomed the gay community. A number of MLS club’s have held game promotions for gay and lesbian groups. Players at D.C. United have recorded personal service announcements for “You Can Play,” an organization, according to a press release, “dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation.” The announcements will air at RFK Stadium as part of the club’s “United Night Out” when the team plays the New England Revolution on Sept. 15.
It’s a pity the Boy Scouts won’t get such a welcome and embrace.
I sincerely hope that MLS will reconsider its position. Conservatives and people of faith who uphold biblical and traditional views concerning faith, morality and marriage, also spend money at MLS games.
Founded in 1910, the Scouts have trained 115 millions boys over the years in practical skills and becoming men of character. Two million of those, like my son, who attended MLS games as a youngster, became Eagle Scouts. MLS should salute the Boy Scouts, not distance itself from them.
For over 20 years John Haydon wrote a weekly soccer column for The Washington Times. He has covered two World Cups and written about Major League Soccer from the league’s inception in 1996. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnahaydon
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