Rugby league has come a long way but it still has even longer to go when it comes to making the game one that truly is truly inclusive of everyone and at the moment this isn’t being helped by seven of its key players for Manly Sea Eagles.
According to multiple news reports, ahead of the Sea Eagle’s match against the Sydney Roosters this Thursday a new-look jersey was revealed that featured three holographic stripes of rainbow colour across the front. The redesign was said to represent a team and sport that was dedicated to being more inclusive.
Seven players – Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolu Koula and Toafofoa Sipley – have all chosen to boycott the game rather than wear it, saying that this goes against their religious and cultural beliefs.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, part of the complaint from the players is that they were not consulted ahead of the jersey reveal. A detail that club owner Chris Penn and ARLC chairman Peter V’landys have acknowledged should have been done prior. For their part, they have stood by the jersey change and have confirmed it will still be worn by the rest of the Manly Sea Eagles who will play against the Roosters and that the lucky seven dissenters are free to sit the game out as they choose.
Which is all well and good on both accounts. Yes, players are the ones who have to wear the jersey and embody what it represents and they should be shown the respect to communicate any changes to it. But it’s fascinating the specific things that they choose to act upon. And what they don’t.
What infuriates me (and always has) is that players will boycott over a rainbow but never boycott a teammate if he's been accused of violence against women or any other morally reprehensible behaviour that they would all agree they don't condone. I do not understand it.
— Pam Whaley (@PamelaWhaley) July 25, 2022
According to their own alleged moral code, the addition of a colour gradient to an existing design is a moral misstep, but the enormous lettering spelling out the brand of online gambling company PointsBet apparently isn’t an issue.
LGBTQ+ in the NRL? No thank you. An institution that fuels one of Australia’s most insidious addictions, with sportsplayers themselves four times more likely to develop problem gambling habits in the already high-risk category of men aged 18-34? Perfectly acceptable Got it.
And this isn’t mentioning the financial services investors sitting just above the betting brand. Perhaps if they actually bothered with the Bible instead of paying lip-service to it they would know that this isn’t a moral stance, it’s not religious it’s actually just homophobia and they’re clearly blithely unaware of the fact that in 1:6:9-10 Timothy said “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation…For the love of money is the root of all evils.”
And then I think it was Matthew, wasn’t it? in 6:24 who said “You cannot serve God and money” then it showed up in the writings of other Christian philosophers before it was filtered down into the teachings of various saints including Benedict and Francis before it trickled on down until it became something to ignore when it suited their purposes and less important than allegedly wearing…a rainbow.