For all the recent progress being made in LGBT equality, there is still plenty of room for firsts. The Minnesota United Football Club made their mark when they became the first professional sports team to sign our Athlete Ally pledge as a group. This was just one of the many important ways the United demonstrated their commitment to equality during their recent Pride match held at their home field in Blaine, MN.
“Sports are incredibly powerful in society and we, as a professional sports organization, are uniquely positioned to impact our culture,” said United president Nick Rogers, a member of Athlete Ally’s Advisory Board. “Inclusiveness and tolerance have always been important and guiding principles for our club.”
Ten United players put those principles into practice by becoming Athlete Ally Pro Ambassadors. Attacker Simone Bracallelo said, “I signed up because for me, it’s important that every person in the world has their rights, and the opportunity to live their life the way they want it.”
Midfielder Michael Reed said, “I think people are often judged unfairly and I believe, especially when it comes to sports, that you should only be judged by what you do on the field.”
“Athlete Ally is not advocating a viewpoint,” added Rogers. “It is just saying that on the field of play the only thing that matters is the competition. That resonated with the guys.”
“In becoming the first professional team in sports to take the Athlete Ally pledge together, Minnesota United FC leads by powerful example,” said Hudson Taylor, executive director of Athlete Ally. “Each day, athletes and fans are growing more aware of the positive impact they can have in advancing LGBT equality.”
Additionally, more than thirty members of the Minnesota United front office, coaching staff, and team have signed the Athlete Ally Pledge. Fans had the opportunity to sign the pledge at the Athlete Ally table, where volunteer Vanessa Nordstrom provided visitors with information about how they can foster inclusive sports climates in their own communities.
“I believe that no matter what your background is, sports is a common bond and everyone deserves that platform,” she said. Nordstrom, an executive at General Mills and a youth soccer coach, attended the game with her husband and two children. She connected with Athlete Ally at this year’s MLB All-Star Game, and said the Athlete Ally mission reflects her own drive to “instill inclusiveness” in the players she coaches and to give them “that support necessary to strive in life regardless of who you are.”
Athlete Ally was also represented at the match by another of its Pro Ambassadors, and the United’s special guest for the evening, former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe. Kluwe has been a tireless advocate for LGBT equality both in and out of sports since 2012.
“There are things that we need to address,” Kluwe had said when he became an Ambassador in 2013. “And if no one ever speaks out, nothing ever gets changed. That’s why I’m an ally.”