Major League Soccer boots Boy Scouts

Major League Soccer announced Friday that the league is ending its relationship with the Boy Scouts of America “for a variety of business reasons.” The league didn’t say whether the announcement was in response to the Boy Scouts’ decision this week to reaffirm the group’s ban on gays and lesbians.

“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 President Mark Abbott said in the statement.

The Dallas Morning News (subscription only) has the Boy Scouts’ response and more information about the partnership:

Deron Smith, a Scout spokesman in Irving, learned of the MLS decision late Friday afternoon and said the BSA will continue to focus on helping young men “grow into good, strong citizens.”

“BSA wishes MLS the best as it continues to work towards its mission,” Smith added.

The relationship between the Scouts and MLS began this January.

The Scouts and MLS, which includes FC Dallas and 18 other teams across Canada and the U.S., announced “an alliance” providing avenues for the soccer league to support scouting programs of “athleticism, character and leadership.”

The alliance was to provide opportunities for Scouts to interact with MLS stars, attend games on reduced-price tickets and be recognized during games for notable achievements such as earning the Eagle Scout designation.

The soccer site Goal.com notes that the MLS has supported causes such as the You Can Play Project, which is dedicated to ending homophobia in sports:

Additionally, many teams, including the Chicago Fire, Chivas USA, D.C. United and the Columbus Crew have held game promotions for gay and lesbian groups. This May, the Fire announced a partnership with Equality Illinois, a LGBT-rights group.

According to the MLS website, the league prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. The MLS has 19 teams in the U.S. and Canada, including FC Dallas, which plays in Frisco.

—  John Wright

Resource Center Dallas calls for NBA to join NFL in banning anti-gay discrimination

The other day we mentioned that the National Football League recently banned anti-gay discrimination as part of the league’s new collective bargaining agreement.

Now, Resource Center Dallas is calling on the National Basketball Association to follow suit.

Resource Center’s Rafael McDonnell provided Instant Tea with a copy of the letter he sent today to NBA Commissioner David Stern and Billy Hunter, executive director of the NBA Players Association, calling for the league to add sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination policy. The NBA is set to resume meetings Friday in an attempt to come up with a new collective bargaining agreement and salvage the upcoming season.

McDonnell says Major League Soccer added sexual orientation protections in 2004, while the National Hockey League did so in 2005.

“I am proud of the steps that the NBA has taken to embrace the LGBT community. Several teams have held LGBT fan nights,” McDonnell’s letter states. “The ‘Wordplay/Think B4 You Speak.com’ PSA that ran during last spring’s NBA playoffs show the league and the players association understand how words can be used to dehumanize LGBT people. Furthermore, recent penalties assessed against players show the league is serious about cracking down on disrespectful language.

“By adding the sexual orientation nondiscrimination language, the NBA not only joins the NFL, NHL and MLS. It joins nine of the Fortune 10 companies and 89% of the Fortune 500. It also sends a strong signal to the league’s LGBT fans that they are supported and affirmed, since professional sports have been described as one of the last bastions of homophobia.”

Read the full letter below.

—  John Wright