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The Colorado Rockies recently signed free agent Daniel Murphy to a two-year, $24-million contract.

On the surface, from a baseball perspective, it looked like a good move. Murphy has had some great seasons in recent years for the New York Mets and Washington Nationals, including finishing second in MVP voting following the 2016 Major League Baseball season.

It appears the Rockies will play Murphy at first base. He should be an upgrade there over Ian Desmond.

But I’m more concerned with Murphy the person than I am Murphy the player. I’m also questioning the values of the Colorado Rockies organization.

In 2015, Murphy said this about Billy Bean, a gay man, former Major League Baseball player, and currently Major League Baseball’s vice-president and special assistant to the commissioner for social responsibility and inclusion:

“I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual. That doesn’t mean I can’t still invest in him and get to know him. I don’t think the fact that someone is a homosexual should completely shut the door on investing in them in a relational aspect. Getting to know him. I would say you can still accept them, but I do disagree with the lifestyle, 100 percent.”

There it is again, using ‘lifestyle’ when describing a homosexual. Using the word implies homosexuals simply choose their sexual orientation at some point in their lives.

Hello, world! It’s damn near 2019! Homosexuals don’t choose their sexual orientation any more than heterosexuals choose their sexual orientation.

As Denise Cawley wrote in Urban Milwaukee, “There is no way anyone is choosing to be something that is ridiculed, has less rights, costs more, and is not popular in your culture. If being gay or transgender were a choice, most LGBT people would simply choose to be heterosexual.”

Talking about homosexuality as a lifestyle choice is offensive and demeaning. When Murphy (or anyone else) uses those words in relation to gays and lesbians, they’re denigrating who homosexuals inherently are.

Murphy is free to hold whatever views he wants. But he needs to be aware of how offensive and hurtful his language can be to fans – homosexual and heterosexual. His demeaning language may also sting other players and employees in the organization.

Bean didn’t choose to be a homosexual. But Murphy and the Colorado Rockies each made a choice in this situation. Murphy chose to publicly demean homosexuals and the Rockies chose to give millions of dollars to someone who denigrates a significant portion of the human race.

By all indications, Murphy isn’t a jerk. People who know him say he’s a good teammate and a strong family man. I would hope he could find it within himself to realize the pain he caused with his offensive homophobic comment and apologize.

Moreover, I would like to see the Rockies publicly state what the organization’s values are when it comes to homosexuals.

In doing so, I would hope they would condemn the use of the words lifestyle and choice when referring to gays and lesbians. In addition, I’d like to see them echo Bean’s message of zero-tolerance when it comes to all kinds of discrimination, including race, colour, religion, national origin, gender or sexual orientation.

But at the very least, I would hope that Murphy and the Rockies would commit to treating everyone with respect and living by the Golden Rule. Murphy has been welcomed into the Rockies organization with open arms. I hope an openly gay player would be received the same way.

A message of non-discrimination and inclusion from the Rockies would be a positive way to enter 2019.

Ken Reed is sports policy director for League of Fans (, a sports reform project. He is the author of The Sports Reformers, Ego vs. Soul in Sports, and How We Can Save Sports.

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