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Aussie Basketball Team Opts out of Wearing Pride Jersey Due to … – The Epoch Times

Team members of the Cairns Taipans have decided against wearing a special Pride Round jersey in response to a “barrage of abuse and harmful commentary” targeting individual players.
The Australian National Basketball League (NBL) is holding its first Pride Round to celebrate the LGBT community from Jan. 25 to 30, with Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger conceding that the move would “conflict with some people’s beliefs.”
“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,” he said in a statement.
Days later, the Taipans—based in north Queensland, Australia—released a statement on Facebook saying it would not take part in the event.
“This initiative should be a celebration; however, our team has already been subjected to a barrage of abuse and harmful commentary that has led to individuals being targeted and shamed,” the team said.
“This is a negative distraction to what should be a positive experience across the game, and now we feel as though our only choice as a team is to collectively opt out of this season’s uniforms.”
The Taipans said the stance was not a reflection of individual beliefs but a “protection of our brothers that are being set up to be vilified and no longer feel as though they have a safe space in our sport.”
They added that they believed “positive change requires positive action” and not the “persecuting” of others.

Taipan’s coach Adam Forde backed his players saying the team supported “individuality, unity, and love, right?”
“We weren’t—unfortunately—recipients of it, for some unknown reason,” he told reporters on Jan. 26.
“We’re doing this [boycotting Pride Round] because we got around our brothers, and we want to protect each other rather than feel like we’re getting singled out for any particular reason. This is us, and I’m proud of them for it,” he said.
The NBL was quick to stand behind the players, releasing a statement saying its position was not to “force or mandate” anyone to wear the jersey or to impose their views on anyone else.
While league owner, Larry Kestelman, said he also respected the team’s decision.
“[The NBL] will continue to create a place where all people feel safe and can be themselves, with no judgement.”
NBL management would likely be wary of the same controversy that played out with the National Rugby League team, the Manly Sea Eagles.
Last July, seven players—all of Pacific Islander descent—chose to opt out of playing one round after club management decided its players should wear a pride jersey without discussing the matter with the league’s overarching body.
In the end, then-Manly coach Des Hasler was forced to read a statement and apologise to the media, raising questions about Manly’s management and leadership.
Chair of the Australian Rugby League (ARL) Peter V’landys told reporters the matter should have been handled better.
“They should have been more collaborative with the players, they should have respected the players, they shouldn’t have just sprung it upon them,” he said.
While V’Landys said that while he backed the idea of a Pride Round in the competition, the likelihood of it going ahead is slim.
Around 40 percent of NRL players are of Pacific Island descent, with many holding deeply religious views; a Pride Round could potentially see hundreds of players’ boycott.
The long-time lead sponsor of the Cairns Taipans, CQUniversity, was critical of the team’s decision.
Vice-Chancellor Nick Klomp said he was not consulted about the decision to boycott the uniform.
“We strive every day to ensure our campuses and online environments are safe spaces for all people, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity or religious beliefs,” he said in a statement.
“As a major sponsor of the Cairns Taipans, CQUniversity does not agree with the Taipans’ decision not to wear the pride jersey,” he added.
“I spoke briefly to Taipans management on Wednesday night, with a view to engaging in more in-depth discussions with the club in the coming days.”
The university has sponsored the team since 2012 and became a naming rights sponsor in 2014.
Meanwhile, the Brisbane Bullets, which are set to face the Taipans during the Pride Round, said they supported their decision.
“We’re an inclusive team, we’re an inclusive organisation, we’re an inclusive sport, (and) we collectively made the decision to support what’s happening with the Pride Round,” coach Greg Vanderjagt told reporters.
“Our group made the decision. Cairns are entitled to make the decisions they made, and their organisation will support that, and their community will support that.”
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