Cubs Announce Partnership with Chicago Muslim Organizations to Combat Islamophobia

Let’s face it, the Cubs haven’t exactly had a great winter when it comes to PR. Even setting aside the unrest from fans over the team’s general lack of activity in free agency, the organization has been beset by a series of ugly stories, many of which are completely of their own doing. Chief among those are the racist and bigoted emails from Joe Ricketts that were leaked to the public earlier this month.

Both Tom Ricketts and Theo Epstein have publicly denounced the sentiments expressed in those messages and efforts have been made to further distance team ownership from their influential patriarch, but that’s not enough. The Cubs’ chairman recently met with leaders from several local Muslim groups and those parties released a joint statement Monday that outlined a plan of action moving forward.

Per the release, the full text of which you can find below, initiatives will include the participation of notable Muslims in Cubs and Wrigley Field traditions, anti-hate PSAs featuring Cubs personnel helping to raise public awareness against Islamophobia, and Cubs support for three community initiatives. The latter trio will be comprised of anti-bullying efforts, diversity, and inclusion training and scholarships.

While it’s unfortunate that it took the publication of some hateful emails to spur these efforts, I applaud the Cubs for taking these steps and I support them heartily in truly trying to be part of the solution. They’ve pledged to do the same with domestic violence, mandating enhanced training for every member of the organization by the start of the season.

We’ll continue to hear more about their work on these fronts in the coming days and weeks, beginning with Tom Ricketts addressing bloggers and media members Monday in Mesa. From there, we should start seeing these words put into action. Let me rephrase that: We must start seeing these words put into action. And if the Cubs are serious about what they say, this won’t be just a temporary solution.

They’ve got a real opportunity to set the bar not only for themselves, but for the rest of MLB and maybe even professional sports. As long as they’re able to make an impact and raise the level of awareness of even a few people in Chicago or throughout the country, these efforts will have been worthwhile.

Today the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) released the following joint statement with the Chicago Cubs announcing genuine, meaningful and visible steps toward combating Islamophobia, bigotry and racism.

This follows a productive meeting held recently at the CAIR-Chicago office between the leaders of several Muslim groups (CAIR-Chicago, Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago – CIOGC and the IL Muslim Civic Coalition) and Chicago Cubs Executive Chairman Tom Ricketts. The Cubs offered to meet with the groups after published offensive emails from Joe Ricketts spurred these groups to publicly condemn the language and content.

The meeting began with a discussion on the history of Muslims in America and in Chicago. Following the discussion, several Muslims in attendance shared stories about their personal history and experience as longtime Cubs fans and how the emails from Joe Ricketts raised doubt about the family and organization’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Tom Ricketts offered a heartfelt apology on behalf of the organization and expressed his desire to mend relationships in the Chicago Muslim community and lend his support in the fight against Islamophobia. Both parties agreed to convert the unfortunate circumstances that brought the groups together into a positive opportunity to work together against hate and bigotry.

The group concluded the meeting with a discussion on a proposed plan of action that included: the participation of notable Muslims in Cubs and Wrigley Field traditions, anti-hate PSAs featuring Cubs personnel helping to raise public awareness against Islamophobia, as well as Cubs support for three community initiatives: anti-bullying efforts, diversity and inclusion training and scholarships. The details of these and other initiatives, as well as the implementation timeline, will be discussed in subsequent meetings in the coming weeks.

“We are encouraged the Cubs, led by Tom Ricketts, responded swiftly and genuinely in partnering with us to turn the situation around. As a result, the Cubs are taking a significant step forward and will use the power of their brand and voice to fight Islamophobia, racism and bigotry. We hope other franchises follow their lead. This active commitment to our shared values of Everybody In is not only great for the brand, but for all fans, for the affected communities and for our city as a whole,” stated CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to further our commitment to diversity and inclusion by joining the Chicago Muslim community in its efforts to eradicate bigotry and Islamophobia,” said Cubs Executive Chairman Tom Ricketts. “My family and I want to thank Ahmed Rehab and Chicago Muslim leaders for the opportunity to meet and have a frank and constructive dialogue about building a better future.”


Evan Altman

Evan Altman is the EIC and co-founder of Cubs Insider and has proclaimed himself Central Indiana's foremost Cubs authority. He is a husband, father, homebrewer, and award-winning blogger with entirely too much pop culture knowledge. Evan's greatest accomplishments include scoring 400 points in Magic Johnson's Fast Break, naming all 10 members of the Wu-Tang Clan in under 3.5 seconds, and winning the Meese Literary Award at Hanover College.

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  1. I don’t know, while I certainly agree there’s no room for racism, bigotry anywhere, sports included, this partnering with CAIR and to use Cubs personnel as promo agents has the potential to IMO create a disconnect for “others” as fans of the sport. Unfortunately Joe is an idiot, now the whole thing just goes a bit deeper into an area, politics and sports, I’ve a distaste for the more and more they are spoken in the same breath. I’m a life long Cub fan, 1 yr. shy of 70, guess I’m just disappointed where all this heading, taking the focus, fun, enjoyment of my favorite team, more towards other issues. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in for the Ricketts, or whomever to champion their causes as they wish, can it not be kept out of the fun side of things, do the smoochin’ in some executive meeting room somewhere, I don’t particularly want to see what’s going to amount to political spots pushing an agenda to right a wrong they have created before, during, after ball games. We get that they are truly sorry, because they are truly worried about the monetary hit from ticket, etc. sales.

  2. On the one hand the cubs organization tries to make amends with their muslim fans, and on the other hand the organization makes a deal with Sinclair media group an unabashed and blatant anti-muslim organization.

  3. What the elder Ricketts wrote/approved of in his emails were disgusting. However the concern over Islam isn’t totally unfounded. (by the way – Islam isn’t a race so quit calling it racism.)

    The FBI broke off all associations with CAIR explicitly because of their links to terrorist organizations like Hamas. Here is a Congressman laying out the problems with CAIR.

    I have Muslim friends. Most are as illiterate of their holy book and/or religion as my Christian friends are. It is more ‘cultural’ than a religion for them.

    I however HAVE read the Quran and have spent years studying the Islamic movement with my friends from Egypt. Anyone who thinks Islam is the equivalent to Hinduism, or the Chrisitan or Jewish faith’s perhaps would be well served to read what Thomas Jefferson, Winston Churchill or US Admiral James Lyons.

        1. No one is disputing that (and as I said, it’s disgusting). However, tweets and inferences clearly confuse the two issues. And articles that whitewash the entire issue as all being “Islamophobic” are misleading in my humble opinion. Nation of Islam Farrakhan just this past week again disparged “hateful Jews.” Nearly every major European mass murder attack – has – at the root of it – Islamic ideology as it’s motivation. Even Turkey’s PM has admitted that there is no “moderate” version of Islam and the end result is subjection of all people under it. Just pointing out there is a serious nuanced difference, rather than lumping the entire issue under general “bigotry.”

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