Straight out of Left field
SPORT and politics are uncomfortable bedfellows at the best of times but when it comes to contentious issues of conscience, they are irreconcilably incompatible.
That won’t stop elite sporting organisations from alienating a sizeable portion of their employees, stakeholders and fans by taking a side on divisive issues.
The AFL’s penchant for sermonising is set to reach new heights of sanctimony now that the dreaded postal plebiscite is upon us. If after years of saturation media coverage and public debate you are still undecided about samesex marriage, then Gill McLachlan (below) and his “progressive” underlings are here to help.
You would think the AFL would be a little gun shy about lecturing the masses on matters of morality just two months after three of its senior managers were forced to resign for misconduct or on-field violence.
If league bosses can’t stop their highly remunerated executives from ploughing the junior ranks of female employees or punching an unsuspecting bloke in the head during a football match then what authority do they have to moralise to voters about the Marriage Act?
Personally, I support same-sex marriage but do not need sporting bodies, councils, banks, airlines or phone companies to lecture me about an issue that has nothing to do with their operations.
What consideration have these organisations given to the views of employees and clientele who do not support it? It’s one thing for individuals, including celebrities and sporting stars, to take a stand on social and political issues but quite another for an organisation that is supposed to encompass the diverse views of its staff and the wider community.
The ARU’s mismanagement of the game is well documented but that hasn’t stopped their board from weighing in on the gay marriage debate and backing the Yes vote along with the AFL, FFA, NRL and Cricket Australia.
A day after the ARU backed same-sex marriage, one of the Wallabies’ biggest stars, Israel Folau, aired his opposition to changing the Marriage Act. The devout Christian, who has played rugby union, rugby league and Aussie rules at the highest level, tweeted: “I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions. but personally, I will not support gay marriage.”
Predictably, this mild statement was met with a flurry of abuse from the tolerance brigade who called him a d---, douche, disgrace and much worse. Several media pundits also responded harshly, questioning Folau’s decency and integrity, and asking why he felt entitled to share his opinion. It has been reported that ARU officials have spoken to Folau about his opposition to same-sex marriage.
The response to Folau is precisely the type of bullying that makes some question the merits of voting yes. There would be others within the ARU and the AFL who think similarly but have been intimidated into silence.
Latest polling shows between 58 and 70 per cent of the population are in favour of same-sex marriage but that leaves a significant number who are not.
The simplistic notion that only a bigot, hater or homophobe would vote no is plainly absurd. Were Bill Shorten, Julia Gillard and Penny Wong homophobes until four years ago when they changed their positions?
Gay marriage would likely be law today if the government was allowed to hold a proper plebiscite in February as they promised at the election. But the LGBTQIA lobby allowed their cause to be hijacked for political gain and Labor and the Greens blocked the vote.
Interestingly, not a single sporting body backed the plebiscite that would’ve delivered gay marriage back then.
Only after it was defeated did the AFLPA launch a public campaign, featuring some of the game’s biggest names, calling for marriage equality. If making gay marriage legal was the main objective, then why did the campaign come months after the plebiscite was debated and ultimately defeated in the Senate?
Organisations such as the AFL, CA and the FFA rarely make a stand that isn’t perfectly aligned to Leftist dogma.
It’s one thing to leave some skin in the game and risk disaffecting segments of the fan base on matters of principle but sporting codes rarely, if ever, do that.
CA doesn’t take a stand against Pakistan despite that country’s intolerance of religious minorities, including the persecution of Christians.
FFA doesn’t boycott the Arab states for their shameful treatment of women or migrant workers. No, our national team will be in Qatar playing in stadiums built by modern-day slaves and we will continue to host their teams.
If sporting bodies really are concerned with promoting human rights and equality, then they shouldn’t be so selective about the causes they embrace or allow party politics to dictate the agenda. For fans, sport often represents an escape from the pressures of daily life; the last thing they want is sociopolitical issues intruding on their love of the game. RITA PANAHI IS A HERALD SUN COLUMNIST firstname.lastname@example.org @ritapanahi