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Outside The Confines: Can baseball stop being terrible?

The sports we love don’t always love us back.

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Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

It is hard to love a sport, because the truth is that sports will never love you back. Sports will never comfort you when the defeat of your favorite team hurts you, they won’t be there for you as you go through the highs and lows of life. Sports can bring us joy and sorrow in equal measure, and we can love them, but they will never love us back.

For minority groups, the reminder that sports don’t love you back can feel heavier, and more dangerous at times. There is a very real difference between being a cisgendered straight sports fan who does not feel fear going to a game with their significant other, compared to a lesbian couple sitting in the stands just trying to enjoy a game in the company of someone they love without encountering hate speech.

On Wednesday, during a Cincinnati Reds doubleheader, the difference was made abundantly clear, as announcer Thom Brennaman oh-so-casually dropped a homophobic slur on air when he thought his mic was off.

The single word was as loud as a clap of thunder, and you better believe LGBTQ+ fans of baseball heard its message loud and clear. It was blunt, it was dismissive, and it was meant in a derogatory way. Brennaman apologized later, claiming he did not know the hurtful and violent history of the word, but the way he said it told another story.

And the people who heard it knew. Every kid who ever had the word yelled at them from a passing car window knew what it meant. Every person who ever tried to go to a baseball game, only to hear someone in the stands shout the word at a struggling player, using its power to cut them down, they knew. Every person listening who knew that words could be weapons knew what the word meant. And so did Thom Brennaman.

He has since been relieved of his duties with the Reds and with the NFL, though not officially fired from either role.

After the end of the game, Reds players Amir Garrett and Matt Bowman were quick to reach out to LGBTQ+ fans they knew were hurting, ensuring that Brennaman’s words did not speak for the team.

As one might expect, writers had something to say about it as well, and that’s where we’ll start today’s links.

And tomorrow will be a better day than today, Buster. Make it so.