Pride In Sports
What Makes Us Champa Bay
Local sports teams celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion
Three professional sports teams which call Tampa Bay home are champions not only within their respective sports, but also in matters of inclusion.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Drawing on the strength of the diverse region, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers strive to base their operations on inclusivity while celebrating diversity.
Tara Battiato, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Vice President of Community Impact, said inclusion and diversity plays a major role in the organization's successes both on and off the field.
“The game of football offers us a large platform for fostering the principles of inclusion, equality, and diversity,” Battiato said. “From a community standpoint, we are committed to uplifting Tampa Bay by creating and supporting programs that address education disparity, gender equality and social justice.”
In 2019, the team became the first in NFL history to have two female assistant coaches, while also being the first team to have black coordinators for offense, defense and special teams. In 2021, the team received the Sport Inclusion Award as a leader in gender equality.
“We are proud of the role we have been able to play in the areas of diversity and inclusion,” Battiato said. “There is still much work to be done in those areas, but we remain committed to building upon our culture of inclusivity and supporting the idea that sports teams can serve a valuable role in advancing important social causes such as gender and race equality.”
Tampa Bay Rays & Rowdies
From the start, the mission of the Tampa Bay Rays and Rowdies is to energize the community through the magic of Rays baseball and Rowdies soccer, not only by building a winning team but also ensuring the staff, players and fans from underrepresented backgrounds know their authentic self is always welcome and safe within Tropicana Field and Al Lang Stadium.
“Diversity and Inclusion work is part of the organization’s identity, and to further that commitment, Stephen Thomas was appointed as Senior Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in 2021,” explained De Anna Sheffield Ward, Vice President Media and Communications, Tampa Bay Rays. “Thomas leads the DEI Council, comprised of staff and community partners, to help inform work in all areas of business, from operations and staffing to programmatic/philanthropic initiatives. The organization’s DEI training and education are ever-evolving and always available to staff and players.”
• The adoption in 2006 of an annual Pride celebration by the Rays. A decision joined by the Rowdies in 2018 following the team’s acquisition.
• The signing of each of the Amicus Briefs supporting marriage equality and workplace protection on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
• Facilitating more than $300,000 in donations for the Pulse Nightclub Fund to benefit the shooting victims; along with a time of recognition for the victims’ family members in 2017 during Pride Night.
• At the start of the 2022 season, the Rays installed a permanent Pride-flag burst beyond the Right Field wall as a visible reminder to fans and staff from the LGBTQ+ community that they are welcome to be their authentic selves at Tropicana Field.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning and the NHL work together to provide a positive and inclusive environment for players, their families and fans of every race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age and sexual orientation.
As part of the NHL’s Hockey Is For Everyone initiative, the Tampa Bay Lightning has hosted a PRIDE Night for the past three seasons and is proud to drive awareness for unity throughout the community. All fundraising programs throughout the game are directed toward nonprofit organizations working with the LGBTQ+ community.
Defenseman and 2017-2018 Norris Trophy winner Victor Hedman serves as the Lightning You Can Play ambassador and as a leader in the locker room and community to promote the League’s growth in its diversity and inclusion initiatives.