After Matt Joyce was recently suspended for uttering a anti-gay slur, it’s pretty clear that the MLB has an issue. Joyce was immediately suspended for two games without pay. His game cheques will go to a local organization.
This isn’t a new issue though, it’s just an issue that’s garnered awareness. It’s important to view Joyce’s suspension in a larger context. Athletes have always been alpha males, and when an alpha male shit-talks, they do one thing: Alpha males question the other person’s masculinity. It’s really just a roll of the dice to decide if it’s going to be faggot, pussy, or something to do with a little dick.
The statements (generally) aren’t fuelled by hate, though. The statements are fuelled by anger and made possible by an incredibly sheltered life. These guys have been calling each other faggots since they were 12-years-old.
So is taking away game cheques really the best way to solve the problem? Well, maybe. Probably not, though.
Baseball fans have always had an insane obsession with crime and punishment, right and wrong, almost to the detriment of actually solving the issue at hand. Solving a complex problem is never as easy as creating sequentially larger deterrents. It’s definitely easier for the public to parse but does little to actually solve the problem. Simply escalating the punishment to solve the problem is how you end up with people doing ten years in prison for a little bit of weed. That’s how you get a culture of Don’t Get Caught rather than the desired outcome.
Instead of focusing on punishment, it’s important that we focus on the desired result. In this case, the desired result is Major League ballplayers understanding that faggot isn’t just a word you throw around with your buddies. It’s a word that’s often accompanied by a beating for a large portion of a marginalised population. It’s a word that’s thrown around solely to make someone who is different feel like complete shit.
This isn’t an issue that’s going to be fixed with a 2 game suspension, a 10 game suspension or even a 60 game suspension. This is an issue of culture, and it’s going to take a concerted effort by every level of baseball. The first step is actually exposing ballplayers to the reality of those affected by anti-gay slurs so that they think twice before just randomly tossing it around.