The Real Issue With Manly’s Pride Jersey

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So much has already been said about the decision of seven players from the Manly Sea Eagles to refuse to wear a “pride” jersey. Most of it seems to be asking the wrong questions.

The fact that many people seem shocked by how outdated and out of touch religious beliefs can be is honestly hilarious. How can you be surprised that opinions formed two thousand years ago aren’t modern or progressive?

Religion itself is so antiquated it’s a wonder anyone still subscribes to such archaic, scientifically-unsound beliefs. But they do, by the millions. Most probably seduced by a dangling carrot suggesting there is something beyond their own inevitable mortality.

In any case, when generation after generation follows the same beliefs those same teachings are simply the norm. That’s just the way it is because it has seemingly always been that way. Especially when this is drummed repeatedly into the minds of children.

With this in mind, is it any wonder that young men who have had these outdated opinions preached to them from as far back as they can remember are so resolute in not supporting the gay community? The church has been intolerant of gays for centuries. A change of opinion of this magnitude will not happen quickly, if at all, and it will take a lot more than just a bunch of leftist media pissing and moaning.

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Now, this doesn’t mean the seven boycotting players are right. They are victims of their own upbringing, burdened by their families and congregations with teachings and opinions that are nonsensical, intolerant and ignorant.

What many forget is that these young men are entitled to believe whatever they like, even if that puts them on the wrong side of history. They have the right to their opinion and no one is obligated to believe them.

But the LBGTQetc community does not tolerate differences of opinion. They can’t simply ignore conflicting opinions or ignore the ignorant people who hold those views. They demand absolute, unwavering support from every member of the wider community.

Which they will never get, but they bleat for it anyway. A better use of their time would be to accept that there will always be those who will not accept them for who they are, whether that be for religious reasons or blatant homophobia. You can’t make everyone like everyone else. There’s no magic cure for ignorance or prejudice.

It’s an unfortunate fact but it’s one they need to face. Their inability to accept this often makes them seem even less tolerant than the homophobes they are fighting with.

Some have pointed out the apparent hypocrisy of the players refusing to wear the jersey for religious reasons but seemingly being ok with the gambling company sponsorships adorning the same jersey. There’s no doubt it appears hypocritical, but just because these players are religious doesn’t mean they’re stupid.

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They’re smart enough to not bite the hand that feeds. Sponsor money pays the bills and these players don’t want to live like peasants. In which case – if their tolerance can so easily be bought – perhaps the LBGTQ community should pass the hat around to get these boys on board.

If basic moral decency towards their fellow man won’t bring them around, perhaps a bribe will.

But religion, hypocrisy and greed are all beside point in this case. They are the garnish of the issue, not the meat and potatoes.

The stock-standard Manly jersey. Pretty plain and boring and apparently not inclusive enough…
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The real question here should be this: what is the point of a pride jersey, or any other non-standard jersey? Why do sports teams need to wear anything other than a home jersey and an away jersey?

Or perhaps this is a better way of framing the question: how does a pride jersey benefit the gay and trans community? What tangible, meaningful improvement does it bestow upon their lives?

The same could be said for special jerseys worn during indigenous rounds. How many indigenous lives do these jerseys directly and legitimately improve?

Or is it all just virtue-signalling token gestures that amounts to nothing?

Because if that’s the case, what the hell are we even arguing about?

Special jerseys aimed at recognising minorities are potential divisive at their core and unless the profits of selling these jerseys is going directly to benefiting members of those minorities then they are also pointless.

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As pointless as company’s who change their social media profile picture to a rainbow version of their own logo. Inclusiveness with the least possible effort. Another box ticked off the woke checklist. Chalk up some more social conscious brownie points.

I wonder what possessed the Manly brains trust to push this jersey on their players, especially during Women In League round which was completely forgotten in the pride jersey furore.

Did they feel they weren’t being inclusive enough? In what way were they discriminating against the gay and trans community beforehand? I was fairly certain the only discrimination professional sporting clubs ever showed their fans was financial.

Can you afford a ticket to the game? If so, they’ll give you one.

Can you afford a membership? Merchandise? If so, they welcome you with open arms.

A cynical person might suspect additional jerseys are simply a marketing ploy to sell more jerseys to fans. In which case all the benefits go to the clubs and the league, not the social-cause-of-the-month they’re hitching their wagon to. Corporate greed hijacking a social cause? Say it isn’t so…

So I ask again, what is the point of a pride jersey and who does it genuinely benefit?

Because if there’s no point and it benefits no one, why do we care if seven players don’t want to wear it? What difference does it make if the jersey itself makes no difference?

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Maybe it has taken this victor-less shitfight to make NRL clubs realise that your normal weekly playing strip is already the most inclusive because it represents the club and all its fans regardless of who they are, what they look like and who they get down and dirty with.

Perhaps it’s better for sporting teams to just shut up and play. Perhaps the politics and pursuit of social justice is better left to organisations that weren’t founded to chase a ball around a field.

Perhaps certain sections of the community shouldn’t demand to be constantly validated by the appearance of rainbow colours on everything.

Remember when rainbows simply meant it had just rained and the sun was out again? Pepperidge Farm remembers.

This whole issue is a joke and no one involved is beyond fault. The protesting players are intolerant homophobes hiding behind (or genuinely misled by) religion. The LBGTQ community is guilty of playing the victim card and yet again displaying their extreme intolerance of anyone they consider to be non-accepting of themselves, just like the whiny do-gooders who leap into action whenever there’s a chance to be outraged. And the Manly Sea Eagles are stupid for putting themselves in the middle of a shitstorm they couldn’t win, although they no doubt did so with the best intentions.

Is all this noise worth it just so a minority of the population feel validated in some weird way for a few minutes? Because if there’s nothing more to it than that then we need to get rid of these pandering gestures that don’t make any genuine difference.

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