Manly Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler said the club has taken ‘learnings’ from this week’s gay pride jersey debacle.
But do you think this ‘learning’ involved the sober realisation that footballers should stick to football if they want to be truly inclusive?
Not a chance!
Manly lost a crucial game Thursday night after to taking the field without seven of their best players who refused to don the LGBTQ+ tribute jumper.
With Christian players watching the game from home after police warned them that their safety at the stadium could not be guaranteed, the club announced that the gay jumper would be back, bigger and better in 2023.
Build back better.
The club did say they would give more notice to players. I guess the players have now been given notice.
Manly bosses would have been better listening to and learning from their captain Daly Cherry-Evans who wore the jumper, but said after the match:
‘I think we need to be really careful about how much we push onto the players to commercialise the game.
‘If you look at a dressing room at an NRL squad it is very diverse and it is very inclusive.
‘So I just wonder how much we need to do as athletes because we already are a lot of things that the club tries to make you represent.
‘At some stage we have to understand that sport is pretty inclusive and it’s not perfect but from my time in the game it does represent a lot of the things that we’re talking about tonight.
‘Unfortunately when people get put in a position to have to do something they don’t want to do, I think that’s why you see positions like tonight.’
Daly-Evans made two very important points.
The first is that the LGBTQ+ pride jersey serves as an example of commercialisation. The creation of the pride jersey did not defeat supposed rampant homophobia in the community, but it probably helped to sell more jumpers.
The Australian newspaper revealed on Wednesday that the idea for the inclusion jersey came from the jersey manufacturer – Dynasty Apparel.
According to the report, the sportswear manufacturer came up with the idea, convinced the club it would be great to do an inclusion round, and then started selling the jumpers on their website for $160 each.
It was clever marketing, not virtuous human rights activism.
The second point Cherry-Evans made is that rugby league is already inclusive and diverse. The football team is very diverse but they all include each other because they are decent human beings.
By virtue signalling with their gay pride jersey, the club created an inclusion problem where there was none. The club, not the players, constructed a situation where it was compulsory to support gay pride but costly to stand for Christian beliefs. A united dressing room was divided by the so-called inclusion game.
A spectator at Thursday’s game told The Australian:
‘As an LGBTQI woman, I am here to say to those Manly players I think their behaviour was really disgusting; we want to show the players and the fans that being who you are is OK; we love you and you’re safe with us.’
She had been worked into a frenzy over non-existent homophobia.
There had never been any suggestion that LGBTQ+ players or fans were unwelcome at Manly. And seven players upset at being forced to wear a gay pride jumper affected exactly no gay players. They weren’t refusing to play alongside gay teammates, they just didn’t want to be used as LGBTQ+ advertising billboards.
The homophobia, just like the inclusion game, was entirely manufactured.
This won’t be the learning though.
Instead, the club will misunderstand the furore as evidence of homophobia where in fact there was none, and so double down on their LGBTQ+ fetish for next year.
Meanwhile, the sportswear manufacturer will make more money.
The LGBTQ+ activists will pretend homophobia in rugby league and so demand even more attention.
The Christian players will be expected to toe the line or face even more demonisation.
And the rest of us will have to suffer through even more sex education when all we really want is to just watch the bloody football.
You can follow James on Twitter. You can order his new book Notes from Woketopia here.
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