Cairns NBL club backs players’ refusal to wear pride jerseys

Rainbow Champion logo on NBL Pride jersey during Pride Round.
Image: NBL

The coach of NBL club the Cairns Taipans has supported players’ “freedom of choice” to not wear pride jerseys with a rainbow logo during the NBL’s Pride Round, with some “reluctant” to do so for religious reasons.

The NBL has launched its inaugural Pride Round earlier this week. For a string of matches, courts from Wednesday will display sponsor Champion’s rainbow flag logo. Players will also wear singlets featuring the rainbow logo on the front (above).

The NBL Pride Round matches kick off today. News Corp reported several Cairns Taipans players are “reluctant” to wear the pride jerseys during their Melbourne match this week, due to their religious beliefs.

Taipans coach Adam Forde told The Cairns Post, “[The Pride Round is] a great initiative by the NBL. We’re about inclusion and freedom of choice – live and let live.

“This is the beauty of what the message is, everybody has freedom of choice that they can be comfortable with themselves and not be segregated or excluded because of it.”

Announcing the Pride Round on Monday, the NBL alluded to NRL club Manly’s messy pride jersey boycott drama six months ago.

NBL commissioner Jeremy Loeliger said players could wear regular singlets during the Pride Round if they prefer.

“We acknowledge, at times, there will be challenges with various stances we take as an organisation and they may conflict with some people’s beliefs,” he said.

“Regardless, we will continue to work together to support each other, and we will always respect that people may have different views, opinions and values to ours.”

‘We respect their choice without judgement’

In a statement on Wednesday, the Cairns Taipans praised the Pride Round “as a positive step forward for the League”. As well as the pride jerseys, the club said all Taipans players, coaches, the CEO and others took part in a training session by Pride in Sport.

“The Taipans support inclusivity and diversity as core values of the organisation, including respect for all religions, ethnicities and cultures that contribute to the richness of the club,” the Taipans said.

“We support our players and respect their choice to wear or not wear the Pride uniforms this season, without judgement.

“It has been disappointing that instead of focusing on the LGBTQ community and the positivity around the initiative, some media commentary has instead focused on players who may be conflicted because of religious beliefs or personal circumstances.

“The club hopes its fanbase and the wider basketball community will embrace the inclusivity that Pride Round is championing in a constructive way and celebrates diversity in our society and our sport.”

Gay NBL player Isaac Humphries applauds Pride Round

Speaking about the Pride Round, NBL commissioner Jeremy Loeliger said “basketball is for everyone”.

“We have always been strong advocates for diversity and inclusion,” Loeliger said.

“We will do all we can to ensure the NBL is a community where everyone is welcome and supported. Individuals are encouraged to be themselves without fear of discrimination or judgement.

“Pride Round is a way for us to acknowledge and thank the LGBTQ community.”

Earlier in the week, trailblazing gay NBL player Isaac Humphries applauded the initiative.

Isaac Humphries is currently the only openly gay player in men’s top-tier basketball. He came out as a gay in a powerful speech with his club in November.

“Since I made my announcement, not only has it made me feel free and happy, but it has also inspired me to help create serious change and set an example,” he said.

“You can be a professional athlete, or anything you want to be, and still be gay.

“The support I have received has been overwhelming and I’ve been so thankful for that.”

Read also: Isaac Humphries says gay AFL player ‘shouldn’t fear’ coming out

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