“On a recent Saturday night in Melbourne, not a half-hour after Mr. Gilbert arrived in his rainbow beanie, a young family filed into an elevator at Etihad Stadium. Inside, wedged between his mother and older brother, a boy no older than 5 wore a pride beanie from last year’s game.
Emblazoned across the front, it read, “How I want to be.”
So reads the narrative published by The New York Times, in which it was declared that the AFL is becoming a haven for gay-friendly rainbow lobbying. Rather than remain a non-political outlet dedicated to the sport, the AFL has favoured patronising politically correct regimes over respecting the beliefs and values of all fans. As The Times gushingly reported:
On Saturday, St. Kilda played in its second annual pride match: an awareness-raising game heavily featuring the signature pride rainbow, including on each player’s uniform. It is just one example of how the A.F.L. — one of the top sports leagues in the world in terms of average attendance, roughly on par with American baseball — has tried to present itself as a force for inclusion.
Naturally, some fans called out the AFL on its pandering to progressive social issues. While the Times dubbed the AFL’s actions as “displays of social conscience”, lifelong AFL fan Shannon Downey pointed out the business motivations behind its support of gay marriage.
“It’s getting a bit farcical, the number of initiatives they’re pushing down people’s throats,” he said. “They’re running a corporation that’s trying to capture as much of the market as they can.”
Perhaps it is a cynical view, but it seems that the sport of AFL has become no longer football, but politics. What used to be a fun, sport-centric night out with family and friends has become a political playground for progressive causes.
St Kilda supporter James Krstic agreed with Downey: “I think a sport is a sport and should remain as such,” he said.
Some AFL players say otherwise. But is that unexpected, given the publicity that the support for gay ‘pride’ has garnered the league?
“The A.F.L. have never acknowledged that there’s a problem to be fixed,” said Jason Ball, a former amateur footballer who became the sport’s most high-profile gay player when he revealed his homosexuality in 2012. “The fact that no players have felt comfortable to come out is reflective of that.”
Despite what Jason Ball may think, the silence of other AFL players is probably reflective of individuals simply getting on with their jobs. The football field is no place for any type of political campaigning: it should remain a political neutral outlet focussed on the sport.
The LGBTI lobby want to turn every aspect of life into a political struggle. While they claim it is a fight for ‘equality’, in truth it is a fight to push a political agenda, which has been proven to not be as widely supported as the mainstream media claim.
The football field does not need to be a “safe space” for every progressive political agenda. Supporters of same-sex marriage do not have logic and reason to support their views; thus, they parrot the views of celebrities as their argument. Enlisting sports players is just the next step in garnering celebrity support for their cause.
It is a shame that the AFL has kowtowed so fully to such a divisive agenda. However, the real tragedy lies in what they have done to themselves. As a stage for progressive politics, they have ultimately abandoned their identity: no longer can the AFL take true pride in saying that they exist for the love and thrill of football. Their dedication to the game has been usurped.