June 6, 2011

The Red Sox Listen to a 12-year-old and Agree to Make Baseball "Better."


It is rare that I offer an overwhelming gold star to the Red Sox - but we must give credit where credit is due. Like the San Francisco Giants, Boston has agreed to produce an "It Gets Better" video; but how this came about is a really great story.

Sam Maden, a 12-year-old all-star short stop and pitcher for the Nashua North Angels, is a ginormous Sox fan. The first game he saw, when he was only nine, was an unforgettable slugfest where Mike Lowell and J.D. Drew both hit grand slams. But this courageous kid decided he wanted to be more than just a kickass awesome middle school athlete and baseball fan.

Sam's uncle, Chris Nutile, was gay and always stressed the importance of acceptance and equality. Mr. Nutile often worked with the Trevor Project, a counseling and suicide prevention organization for youth, geared towards those associated with the gay community. To support his uncle's cause, Sam and his buddies organized a bike-a-thon at school and raised $800.

Sadly, Chris Nutile died last year in the mudslides that devastated Brazil. No one is exactly sure what happened to the 43-year-old gay man. To honor his uncle, Sam wanted to organize another charity drive. So he talked to one of his teachers, who mentioned how a man from San Francisco petitioned the Giants to produce an "It Gets Better" video - and Sam decided to make a similar request to the Red Sox.  He wrote:
Greetings, Boston Red Sox.  Every day, gay and lesbian teens in middle school and high school are made fun of and bullied. It's sad that some of them are bullied so badly, they commit suicide. There are videos on YouTube called 'It Gets Better' that tell young people it is OK to be who they are. My name is Sam, I am 12 years old and my two friends and I really like the Boston Red Sox. We have looked up ways to change our community, and our country. On YouTube and Facebook you can see examples of 'It Gets Better' videos. There are hundreds. So please, can you make a video to help young gay and lesbian teens? You can help us save lives one teen at a time.
Sam’s letter impressed the hell out of the people at Change.org, who subsequently reached out to Susan Goodenow, the Red Sox VP of Public Affairs and Marketing. Only a day later, the Sox were on board.  All because of a brave 12-year-old's letter.

Listen, Jonathan Papelbon may be the biggest douche in baseball (sorry, I had to throw that in there; all of this Boston praise is giving me a headache), but A+ to the Red Sox.  I am so happy this is catching on throughout baseball.  Besides Boston and San Fran, the Chicago Cubs have also pledged to produce a video. And I'm going to contact the Yankees this week about making a video of their own – I will post my email and any response I receive.  It is small steps like these that go such a long way in changing culture and attitudes; thanks to the Sox, the Giants, and the Cubs, baseball really is getting a little bit “better” every day. 

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