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Are we really losing it over rainbow lines?

Hello again and welcome to my first opinion post in a verrrrrrrry long time.

I may be a little rusty in my forming of an argument but I'll give it my best shot because something popped up in my news feed and I actually have views on it.

I've tried to stay out of the "here's rhi's two cents" circuit for a little while because to be completely honest the dramas out there either haven't been worth the fight or are simply not areas I feel I have anything valid to say. So it's better to stay mute and let the more engaged people chat.

But this issue, I feel I have a little nudge in to say something.

I love the NRL. As much as I love any other sport. I love the thrill, the hoarse lungs as you cheer on your team and the complete elation at a nail-biting win.

What I don't love is big-ol statements that have nothing to do with sport being plastered across everything and taking up valuable news space.

As I'm sure you've seen, there has been some recent drama around a group of Manly players standing down over their clubs new "pride jersey" for this weeks game. If you haven't seen it... you're lying or you're not from Australia.

Now, this has obviously stirred up some strong feelings as it re-hashes the vote for gay marriage debate around whether people should be allowed to stand up for their cultural/religious beliefs if people in the LGBTIQ+ community are allowed to stand up for theirs.

And I think it's not as clean cut as some are making it out to be. There's a few ways to look at this.

Contracts and what being being a staff member means.

When I go into work I am required to abide by my workplaces code of conduct and their various policies around inclusion, diversity etc. No matter what beliefs I may hold when I am at work or representing my workplace I am required to abide by the rules of that workplace.

When you sign a letter of offer you agree to terms that set out what the workplaces rules, policies etc are. That's what you agree to follow in order to be paid and be a member of that workplace.

As a player of a sports club you are required to abide by the policies and procedures of that club. Decisions at management level are made around marketing, branding, sponsorship etc. and you follow along with those decisions. Practically, consultation should always occur before any major change but ultimately when a decision is made you are required to abide by it.

The Manly players are not representing themselves or their personal beliefs when they wear the jersey given to them for a particular match, they are representing the club and the clubs beliefs. They should be separating themselves from situation entirely, which is why this whole debacle bothers me in the first place.

I really don't care what your views are. Live your life based on your own beliefs and systems. If you don't fuck with me I won't fuck with you. All that jazz. That's my mantra. But as a player you don't get to dictate the strategic priorities or marketing choices of the club. If you don't support those decisions you leave.

That's also why I have no issue with those particular players standing down for this match.

Do we really care about rainbow lines on jersey's?

My second point is a little more subjective.

As a bisexual woman, I have never felt the need to "come out". Although I suppose this now counts... anyway! I don't feel that I require or desire any special treatment, I don't need to have it on my signature block or introduce myself by my sexuality. It's a personal preference to me.

What I personally believe the whole "pride movement" is about is normalising being gay. I should be comfortable introducing my girlfriend to a group of people as much as I would my boyfriend. I want to see husband's handing their kid over to their husband who runs through the banner at an AFL match without it being a big deal. I want to see lesbian kisses in movies without it being skipped over because it makes people uncomfortable.

I just want it to be normalised.

Making a jersey with some coloured lines on it means less than nothing to me. Seeing some straight men running around for one night with a special jersey on means nothing to me. To me, this is a marketing ploy by the club to appear "better" than other clubs because they're so much more inclusive. It's got nothing to do with actually being supportive of gay people.

You want to show me you're supportive of gay people? Just don't be a dick to gay people. Job done. If you come over and show me your rainbow ribbon that you're wearing in solidarity I'm not going to be impressed. Show me a donation to funding mental health in youths who are struggling with their sexuality. Be good parents who accept your kids no matter what sexuality they are. Pick up on your friends shoddy behaviour when they're verging on homophobia.

That's good stuff.

This jersey doesn't mean anything to me.

But I accept that I obviously don't speak for the entire LGBTIQ+ community. As everyone is entitled to their own views.

Which brings me to my overall point.

This is such a pointless argument.

  • Major changes should always be discussed with staff. Which these players technically are.

  • Players are contractually obliged to represent their club and in turn abide by their clubs policies (why do you think they fire people for vaping on Instagram?!)

  • They're also allowed to leave if they don't like/agree with the policies. In this case, it's one game, let them stand down for it to make whatever point they feel they're making.

I have no idea how pay works in NRL but maybe dock em a weeks pay. They're choosing not to play after all, over an outfit.

But really, why are we making these kinds of statements in rugby anyway? Why are we creating such heated debate online about peoples views over little rainbow lines on a shirt. It's all marketing, we're just feeding into it. Sport should be about sport. If the players want to talk about mental health, the LGBTIQ+ community, cancer, politics or anything in-between they can do it in their own time.

When I'm at work, I'm doing a job. When I'm at home I'm making blog posts with my random views on things that have nothing to do with my job.

Let's go back to that.

As always, happy to chat about this stuff. I kinda like arguing about these things. But not at work (duh).

Lots of love,

Rhi xx

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