Speaking ahead of the Sounders’ second annual Pride Day, the team captain weighed in on what the occasion means to him in a Q&A.
When the Sounders and New York City FC exit the CenturyLink Field tunnel Saturday afternoon, 50,000 gay-pride flags will greet them.
When sports fans channel-surf their way to ESPN between 2 and 4 p.m., they’ll see a stadium full of vibrant colors — red, yellow, orange, green, blue and purple.
And when Seattle captain Brad Evans pulls on his arm band, it’ll be emblazoned with those same six colors.
His won’t be an empty gesture. A player who prides himself on community engagement, Evans knows how symbolism resonates. The Orlando shooting less than two weeks ago adds another layer of poignancy.
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Evans came into MLS in Columbus with Robbie Rogers, well before the latter earned international acclaim as the first openly gay man to compete in a top North American professional sport. Evans saw how the support that followed made an impact.
Speaking ahead of the Sounders’ second annual Pride Day, Evans weighed in on what the occasion means to him in a Q&A:
• On Pride Day and where it fits within the club’s overall mission: “We want to be all-inclusive and keep everyone involved no matter what. This is a big deal. Maybe this will start something. Last year, I think it did. It kick-started something around the league, ‘OK, we’re jumping on board. We see the following.’
“Is it a hot topic? Yeah. But at the end of the day, this is Seattle. Something about the culture of Seattle, I think, draws people together.”
• On why MLS seems to have embraced the gay-rights movement more than most professional sports leagues: “Our fan demographic plays a lot into it. It’s a new league and a newer fan, a more in-the-now fan. It’s very difficult to change somebody’s beliefs, and that tends to be an older generation. Our generation of fan and demographic reaches out a little bit more and is definitely more accepting.
“It’s just a different sport. I think that it’s a different type of person that plays soccer than plays, say, a macho sport. There’s a certain stigma behind football and having to be gritty, having to be tough. Baseball is also a little bit that way. You would never be able to spot a soccer player walking down the street. It’s a people’s game. Maybe that has something to do with it.
“There’s just not a lot of talk about it in the locker room, in a negative way.”
• On playing with Rogers and how it impacted his view of the topic: “Anytime something hits a little closer to home, it’s going to change the way you think about things. If you’re an advocate for guns and a close family member or your child is killed by somebody with a gun, it may change your views a little bit.
“Robbie is living his life and living free now, and that’s the most important thing to take away from it. He’s performing at a very high level. He’s in a locker room with no issues and no problems. … He’s been a focal point, and it takes somebody like that to start a movement.
“Those closest to him just wanted him to be happy. That was the most important thing. You want somebody to live life the way they want to live it.”