The San Francisco Giants' Sergio Romo is probably best known for throwing the final pitch that helped the Giants win the 2012 World Series.
But the Giants' closer is also earning a reputation for his political activism. At the team’s victory parade, Romo sported a blue T-shirt that read “I just look illegal ” -- a cheeky comment on how the debate over immigration reform is all too often reduced to ethnic stereotypes.
Now, Romo is reported to be joining forces with the Three Twins Ice Cream company to develop Sergio Romo’s Mexican Chocolate. The new flavor will be billed as "it only tastes illegal"; proceeds will go toward supporting immigration reform efforts.
It’s well known that Romo, a first-generation Mexican American, supports measures that would legalize so-called Dreamers, or young immigrants who were brought illegally to the U.S. as children. He’s already appeared in a video for the Dream Is Now campaign and has often referred to his parents and growing up along the U.S. border with Mexico.
Romo’s decision to openly embrace a political cause is remarkable because it is rarely done. Sure, athletes are increasingly using their high profiles to bring attention to some causes, but rarely are these political, or as controversial as immigration.
The reason for that is simple. Professional athletes have lucrative contracts on and off the field. Companies pay those athletes because they attract consumers. Those who become too controversial can undercut their ability to pitch products, or worse yet, find themselves cut from a team.
Consider what happened to the Minnesota Vikings' Chris Kluwe. According to sportswriters, the punter was released after eight years on the team because of his outspoken activism on a range of issues.
Romo's support for immigration reform is unlikely to hurt his career, given that there is broad support for comprehensive immigration reform among Latinos and corporate America is increasingly targeting that segment of consumers. Still, it is nice to see an athlete take such a smart stance on an important issue.