AM 760 KFMB - Talk Radio Station - San Diego, CA - Who’s Really to Blame in Padres v. SD Gay Men’s Choir?

Who’s Really to Blame in Padres v. SD Gay Men’s Choir?

Updated: May 22, 2016 11:31 PM

More often than not, those who are either invited or chosen to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at a professional sporting event are given the chance of a lifetime. I certainly couldn’t do it. So, I respect those who go through with it.

Saturday night prior to the Dodgers-Padres game at Petco Park, one hundred volunteer singers from the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus were ready to proudly sing the national anthem.

However, upon the commencement of the song, whoever was controlling the audio up in the control room accidentally played an audio file of a single woman singing the anthem.

On Sunday morning, Bob Lehman, executive director of the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus, issued a lengthy response calling for an investigation into the matter: “What should have been a night of joy and celebration at Petco Park last night, instead turned into a nightmare raising serious questions about homophobia within the San Diego Padres organization and its relationship with the LGBT community.

“No attempt was made to stop the recording and start over. No announcement of apology was made to the singers or their friends and families in the stands. No attempt to correct the situation occurred other than to force the 100 men to stand in the spotlight of center field for the song’s duration and then be escorted off the field to the heckles of baseball fans shouting homophobic taunts including “You sing like a girl.” (San Diego Union-Tribune)

Let’s all take a few steps back, pop a Midol or two, and hash this out like a couple of grown-ups. Was last night humiliating in some sense? Absolutely. I would be embarrassed if that happened to me, regardless if I was gay, straight, blonde, brunette, lesbian or transgender.

While I do not condone homophobia or anything of the sort, one must understand that there is still going to be some sense of no matter where you go. Not everyone thinks it’s kosher or a correct way of life.

That being said, it’s classless for these fans to shout such homophobic slurs, whatever they may have been, at these performers. If anything, I might have notified security to remove those fans. It wouldn’t matter to me if they were Dodgers or Padres fans.

I know one of the first replies from such a fan would be that I or the security is infringing on their First Amendment rights. While that may be true, you don’t have the right to be a jackass in front of kids who shouldn’t be hearing that language, as well as others who were acting in a somewhat normal fashion.

Should there have been someone to stop the audio of the woman singing? Yes. That’s unacceptable. Humans make mistakes. We don’t know if it was intentional or not (I’ll expand on that in a moment). There should’ve been an opportunity for the chorus to sing and have a moment of pride.

Now, there’s one aspect of this story that, if true, would be a huge black eye for the San Diego Padres organization:

“This incident followed several days of troubling comments and behavior within the San Diego Padres organization.

Three days before the game, San Diego Padres representatives aggressively sought to prevent singers from performing the National Anthem unless they purchased a ticket to the game—even if they did not plan to stay for the game—which was not part of any previous discussion or written or verbal agreement and would have cost the small, community-based non-profit thousands of dollars.

The demand eventually was rescinded on Friday following repeated complaints made by SDGMC and San Diego Pride to San Diego Padres management.”

Why is it that a multi-million-dollar privately-owned sports organization is trying to squeeze money out of people who want to sing a song for two to three minutes, and then get on with their day? I’m not saying that every single member of the chorus is a baseball fan.

If only a handful of the volunteers wanted to stay for the game, and let’s say the group already agreed to skip the game altogether, wouldn’t you think the Padres would pay it forward and find a way for them to stay for the game?

Perhaps there’s no way we’ll ever know what the negotiations fully entailed. We don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.

You might also want to consider that even if the Padres wanted to keep these 100 singers for the game and they couldn’t because of a sell-out crowd of more than 40,000 people. Yes, the capacity for seats at the ballpark is north of 42,000, but who’s to say it would’ve worked? I’m certainly not.

Granted, the Padres aren’t some minor-league squad in podunk, rural town in the middle of nowhere with 100 people coming to their ballgames. They’re also not the San Francisco Giants, the Boston Red Sox, the Chicago Cubs, or any other team that plays well and sells out consistently with nearly no empty seats in their respective homes.

On the flip-side, maybe the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus is making a big deal over nothing? It’s jarring to look at their list of demands, claims and requests. As I stated earlier, I understand the humiliation.

Will I ever know what it feels like to be a gay man? No. I’m a heterosexual male. What gays, lesbians, and others of that community have endured over the years is truly upsetting and should be to those who are of sensible minds, whether you agree with homosexuality or not.

“…we call on the San Diego Padres and Major League Baseball to immediately launch a full and transparent investigation into the incident to determine if someone or some people intentionally engaged in anti-gay discrimination or a hate crime by playing a female’s voice to represent a group of gay men with the purpose of denigrating and/or ridiculing gay men.”

Is this attention really necessary? The Padres sent out a two-sentence paragraph explaining that it was an error on their part. The group also stated that the Padres statement “did not appropriately address the gravity of the situation nor pay due to the 100 volunteers who took to the field in celebration and were led off in humiliation.”

Did they want a helicopter dropping some sort of monetary compensation and announce over the public address system every minute detail of what went wrong immediately following the transgression?

This quickly reverts us back to the time we’ve suddenly become a group of human beings that demand instant gratification, regardless of the circumstances.

Do we not value the forgive-and-forget mentality in our society? When did we choose to question everything we hear?

Yes, we may question our politicians and world leaders with everything they say and do. Yes, we may be skeptical of those professional athletes who are dominating the competition and wonder if they’re using performance-enhancing substances.

But, if the San Diego Padres are admitting their mistake, how come that’s not enough for this organization? If the Padres wanted to take a step in the right direction and try to mend the bridge that they originally built with the chorus, they could invite them to a future game, free of charge.

Will it completely cover up the wound and rid it of its existence? Probably not, but to assume that an organization consisted of hundreds of employees intentionally carried out a hate crime for a group of gay men looking to sing the national anthem is beyond preposterous in my mind.

In the end, if you really wanted to speak with your emotions the right way, you’d never attend a baseball game or want to be affiliated the San Diego Padres and Petco Park ever again. Think of going to a restaurant and finding something disgusting in their food or they did something to completely humiliate you. Would you really want to go back? No! You would do everything in your power to frequent other establishments. Go write your Yelp! review and be done with it.

UPDATE (5/23/16): The San Diego Padres concluded their internal investigation on the event that happened Saturday night at Petco Park. Citing “no malicious intent” whatsoever. They’ve fired a third-party contractor and disciplined employees responsible for the blunder. Read the full statement from the club here.

They’ve accepted responsibility and got rid of the cause of the problem. Also, an invitation has been extended from the Padres to invite the chorus back to sing at a future game. No word yet whether the invitation has been accepted. If this is not enough to silence the critics or soften the PR hit the club has endured already, I’m not sure what else can be done. There’s more to life than focusing on this more than what’s already transpired.

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