A league of their own for pet­ti­ness ANNIKA SMETHURST

Sunday Herald Sun - - OPINION - ANNIKA SMETHURST IS NA­TIONAL POL­I­TICS EDI­TOR annika.smethurst@news.com.au @an­nikas­methurst

IF you’re plan­ning to sit down with fam­ily and watch Mel­bourne and North Queens­land square off for the NRL ti­tle tonight, be warned. A song will be played at half­time that pro­motes same-sex mar­riage.

If you’re wor­ried about the kids be­ing sucked in by the mes­sage of tol­er­ance, bet­ter take them out of the room. And don’t think the ad breaks are safe. The yes and no cam­paigns could push their mes­sage into your lounge­room dur­ing the com­mer­cials.

In case you’re lucky enough to have missed the lat­est “con­tro­versy” in Aus­tralian pol­i­tics, let me fill you in. US rap­per and mul­ti­ple Grammy Award win­ner Mack­le­more will pre­form his 2013 song, Same Love — a pro-same-sex-mar­riage song — as part of his half­time act.

Scared yet? Wor­ried it might change your vote? Of course not.

Some of our po­lit­i­cal lead­ers are so fright­ened by the idea this four-year-old tune will be played that they have ac­cused the NRL of in­sult­ing and of­fend­ing sports fans — most of whom will be queu­ing for a hot dog when the song is sung.

One of the great free speech war­riors of our time, Tony Ab­bott, tweeted that rugby league fans “shouldn’t be sub­jected to a politi­cised grand fi­nal. Sport is Sport”.

It was a sen­ti­ment echoed by fel­low con­ser­va­tive Peter Dut­ton, who ac­tu­ally sug­gested — in the in­ter­est of free speech — we find an artist to sing a tune about the mer­its of tra­di­tional mar­riage.

Un­for­tu­nately, the Mor­mon Taber­na­cle Choir needed a lit­tle more no­tice.

League fa­natic and in­de­pen­dent MP Bob Kat­ter said the de­ci­sion was tan­ta­mount to “seeping sewage into the debutante ball”.

And Pauline Han­son said she would rather see Aus­tralian artists John Farn­ham or Daryl Braith­waite per­form at the fi­nal (no ar­gu­ments here).

Aus­tralian sports fans are not go­ing to let a song in­flu­ence their view on same-sex mar­riage.

Will it im­pact the fi­nal score? Nope. Will it af­fect Storm cap­tain Cameron Smith’s chances of win­ning the Clive Churchill Medal? Not one iota.

Sport and pol­i­tics have al­ways been deeply in­ter­twined.

Our politi­cians have long used sport to build na­tional pride and gen­er­ate a feel­ing of suc­cess.

It has also been an in­cred­i­bly pow­er­ful force for change.

Dur­ing Apartheid, South African teams were sub­ject to a num­ber of in­ter­na­tional boy­cotts.

In 1964 the en­tire South African team was banned from the Tokyo Olympics over its re­fusal to con­demn Apartheid.

In 1979 the two-man golf team of Dale Hayes and Hugh Baioc­chi was ex­pelled from the World Cup cham­pi­onship by the Greek gov­ern­ment.

South Africa was also ex­cluded from the first two World Cups in 1987 and 1991.

In 1936, Jesse Owens and 17 other black Amer­i­can Olympians went to the Games in Ger­many and won medal af­ter medal in front of Adolf Hitler.

In 1968, US Olympians Tom­mie Smith and John Car­los — who’d won gold and bronze in the 200m sprint — raised black­gloved fists dur­ing the medal cer­e­mony to protest lynch­ings.

Box­ing great Muham­mad Ali was stripped of his world heavy­weight ti­tle af­ter he re­fused to fight in the Viet­nam War.

And last month NFL play­ers knelt dur­ing the Amer­i­can na­tional an­them in protest against the op­pres­sion of AfricanAmer­ica and other mi­nori­ties in the United States.

And we are ar­gu­ing about one song.

There is no deny­ing the Same Love is po­lit­i­cal and will be per­formed at a time when Aus­tralians are par­tak­ing in a non-bind­ing postal survey on the is­sue of same-sex mar­riage.

The song ar­gues that in so­ci­ety “gay is syn­ony­mous with the lesser” and it po­litely calls for tol­er­ance.

Don’t like it? You have five min­utes and 20 sec­onds to stand up, walk to the fridge and grab a beer.

Mack­le­more will sing Same Love at the NRL grand fi­nal.

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