By Alex O’Connor
This Monday, umpire Dale Scott became the first MLB umpire to come out as gay. He is not only the first in his sport to come out while active, but within all four major sports (MLB, NHL, NBA, NFL). Scott has been an umpire at the Major League level for 29 seasons. He has also been with his partner for 28 years. The news was released through a photo of Scott with partner Michael Rausch in Reference magazine. The photo submitted was of the two on a plane attending the opening MLB series in Japan this past year. In addition, this magazine only has roughly 45,000 subscribers and might be a hint that he was letting the outside world know in a very reserved manner that he was gay.
The news was first reported by Outsports, which is a California-based media company that focuses on sport figures who decide to come out as gay. Outsports also tracks the influence of gay sport figures in all sports across the world. With an interview with Outsports regarding his reasons for coming out, Scott noted that “I didn’t want to be making some coming out story, some banner headline, because that’s not how I operate.” What I am taking from this quote is that Scott knew the recent process of athletes coming out as pioneers for the sport (Michael Sam, Jason Collins) and the flurry of media attention that has been focused on them. Most notably with Michael Sam, he had not even played a regular season snap and was getting as much focus within the media as someone like Johnny Manziel. Even though Scott is not a player, the argument can be made that he would receiving as much media attention as the players above due to him being the first of his profession. Scott is the first umpire in all four major sports, Sam was the first NFL player and Collins was the first NBA player.
The significance of Scott coming out is that his actions may be the motivation that other non-athletes in the sport industry need to come out. Though this may not be the case, it is something that the media needs to adjust to. However, Scott gave very little room for sport media exploitation in his circumstance. Due to Scott’s limited media involvement, he has respectfully kept his story from expanding into a larger role in the sport media spectrum.