A league of their own for pettiness ANNIKA SMETHURST
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.