Homosexual activists have declared next week as "Play With Pride" week, and they want all soccer athletes – including kids – to wear rainbow laces on their soccer cleats to show their support.
On its website, United Soccer Coaches is promoting this third year of Pride week: "Teams across the country can show their support for athletes and coaches in the LGBTQ+ community by wearing rainbow laces. Laces are available upon request for all United Soccer Coaches members at the club, high school or collegiate level."
The USC is also encouraging players to post and tag to social media their participation in the gay pride effort.
But soccer mom Jennifer Bryson is pushing back, saying the promotion of a particular viewpoint with which some players may disagree violates international rules of the game, and freedom of conscience.
"Not everyone agrees with the causes represented by the LGBT rainbow," Bryson writes on her website.
FIFA is the international governing body for soccer. Bryson says wearing what everybody knows is a political symbol on a uniform or sports kit clearly violates FIFA rules, which state: "Equipment must not have any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images."
Bryson says politics – anyone's politics – do not belong in sports. She has founded Let All Play, a project which advocates to get politics out of sports and has started an international petition to FIFA to get this international governing body of soccer to enforce its own rules against political symbols, such as the LGBT rainbow, on soccer uniforms.
But beyond the rules-breaking, something greater is at stake, she argues. The violation of rules has led to the violation of the rights of players and hindered the careers of those who don't agree with efforts like the "Pride" promotion.
"Players who have declined to wear the LGBT rainbow in international and league play have been harassed and now risk being disadvantaged in their careers," Bryson writes in her blog.
A recent example of that is when the US Women's National Team blocked a top player, Jaelene Hinkle, from participating in a big match in 2018 because she refused to wear the pro-LGBT rainbow number on her team's jersey. Eventually, she wasn't even invited to the US World Cup team, even though she's one of the best defenders in the nation.
A devout Christian, Hinkle told CBN News in 2018 that after days of prayer on the matter, she just didn't believe God wanted her to wear a gay pride jersey.
"I felt so convicted in my spirit that it wasn't my job to wear this jersey," Hinkle said. "I gave myself three days to seek and pray and determine what He was asking me to do in the situation."
Hinkle made the tough call and walked away from that huge opportunity in 2017, withdrawing from the team that eventually went on to win the World Cup in women's soccer in 2019.
Prevailing attitudes on the team about diversity apparently don't include diverse beliefs. The Washington Post reported that Ashlyn Harris, one of her former teammates, blasted Hinkle on Twitter about her decision not to play. "Hinkle, our team is about inclusion," Harris wrote. "Your religion was never the problem. The problem is your intolerance and you are homophobic."
So next week during Play With Pride week, what if a player does not want to wear LGBT rainbow laces? Or what if parents don't want their child to participate? Bryson says there's nothing on the United Soccer Coaches website that mentions notifying parents of the Play With Pride promotion week, so some may be taken by surprise. Bryson believes those resisting may experience shunning and vilification to some degree, just like Jaelene Hinkle.
It's an ongoing conflict between those who want to keep religious beliefs in believers' heads and those who declare that what they believe must be lived out in their actions. Identity politics seems to be the key battleground for those opposing viewpoints today. Next week, Bryson says, it's all about shoelaces. "There is no millimeter of territory that the Left will leave untouched until everyone affirms its agenda."