The NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and WNBA will all have floats in the upcoming New York City Pride March on June 24, reports Cyd Zeigler of Outsports.com.
The NBA, WNBA, and NHL have participated in Pride before, whereas MLB and the NFL will be doing so for the first time. Per Outsports, the NFL’s float will include former offensive lineman Ryan O’Callaghan, who came out last year, while MLB’s float will feature out former umpire Dale Scott and MLB executive Billy Bean.
Members of the MLS and NWHL will also reportedly march in the parade, though those leagues will not have their own floats. Meanwhile, Billie Jean King will serve as one of the grand marshals of the event.
Such widespread buy-in to the Pride March shows how far sports leagues’ positions on LGBTQ rights have come in a short amount of time. Only two years ago, the NBA and WNBA became the first leagues to march in the Pride parade, when Adam Silver, Jason Collins, and others shared a float decorated with #NBAPride and #WNBAPride. The NHL joined last year, and now all four major sports leagues are onboard.
— NBA (@NBA) June 26, 2016
Of course, even as teams hold Pride nights and leagues wave rainbow flags, American sports have quite a long way to go in making LGBTQ people feel welcome. After Jason Collins and Michael Sam came out publicly in 2013 and 2014, respectively, momentum seemed to be building for athletes to discuss their sexual preferences more openly. But although Collins played a few games for the Nets after coming out, Sam never got a full shot in the NFL, leaving many observers to wonder whether his sexuality had hindered his career. No active athlete in a big-four sport has come out since, suggesting many are afraid of the potential reaction from teammates, coaches, executives and maybe even the league offices.
Riding a float in the Pride March is a good start in demonstrating that everyone is welcome in professional sports. Now the question is what the leagues do next.