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Pride jersey drama takes late twist as club pulls out amid ‘barrage of abuse’ – Fox Sports

Cairns Taipans pulled out of plans to wear a pride jersey on Friday night with a club statement blaming a “barrage of abuse and harmful commentary” towards their players for the controversial decision.
The statement, released just minutes before their NBL match against South East Melbourne Phoenix, confirmed that the team had “collectively” opted out of wearing the uniform.
“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 statement read.
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“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.
“This is not a reflection of our individual stances or personal views, but a protection of our brothers that are being set up to be villified and no longer feel as though they have a safe space in our sport.”


The decision came hours after the club issued a separate statement that lashed out at media reports that some of its players were considering rejecting the pride logo on their jersey due to religious beliefs.
News Corp reported on Tuesday that several Taipans players were considering not wearing the logo, which led to the club saying that the focus was being shifted away from the Pride Round initiative.
“It has been disappointing that instead of focusing on the LGBTQ community and the positivity around the initiative, some media commentary has instead focused on players who may be conflicted because of religious beliefs or personal circumstances,” the statement read.
“The club hopes its fanbase and the wider basketball community will embrace the inclusivity that Pride Round is championing in a constructive way and celebrates diversity in our society and our sport.”
After the Taipans ultimately decided to pull out of the initiative altogether, the NBL released a statement saying it would not stand in to make players wear the pride logo.
“The NBL fully respects and understands that there may be people in the community with different views to those being conveyed through the Champion Pride Round. Hence we have not mandated that our players have to wear the Pride jersey and if any player or team elect not to wear the jersey, we will respect that decision,” the statement read.
The drama comes after the NBL launched its pride round on Monday and months after a pride jersey scandal derailed Manly’s season in the NRL.

Seven players stood down from the Sea Eagles’ Round 20 match against the Sydney Roosters in 2022 because they opposed the rainbow jersey on religious and cultural grounds.
The Sea Eagles then ended their season with seven consecutive losses, missing out on finals and sparking rumours of discontent within the Manly camp.
Two-time premiership winning coach Des Hasler was axed in the off-season following the debacle, with incoming coach Anthony Seibold needing to unite a divided squad in his first pre-season with the club.
Meanwhile, the US has also been hit with a pride jersey drama in recent times with Philadelphia Flyers ice hockey star Ivan Provorov refusing to wear a pride jersey or use sticks wrapped in rainbow tape for an annual pride night fixture.
Provorov cited his Russian Orthodox beliefs, telling reporters he chose to “stay true to myself and my religion”.
“I respect everybody’s choices,” he said.
The Flyers have hosted the annual Pride Night fixture before, with players using rainbow tape on their sticks (with Provorov abstaining in the past).
2023 marks the first time the organisation wore pride jerseys, reportedly a player-driven initiative to signify their support for the LGBTQ+ community.

Provorov’s Flyers teammates Scott Laughton and James van Riemsdyk have been staunch supporters of the LGBTQ+ community, partnering with non-profits in Philadelphia and hosting members of the community at every home game, providing them with signed merchandise and complimentary tickets.
Laughton told local publication Broad Street Hockey that “it doesn’t matter who you love at the end of the day, if you want to play hockey, you should be able to, and that’s the biggest part of (Pride Night)”.
Kurt Weaver, COO of the NHL’s social activism partner You Can Play, said Provorov’s actions “negatively impacted” understanding and inclusion in the sport.
“It’s disappointing to see that’s the outcome from this.”
The Flyers released a statement after the game, saying: “The Flyers organisation is committed to inclusivity and is proud to support the LGBTQ+ community.
“Many of our players are active in their support of local LGBTQ+ organisations, and we were proud to host our annual Pride Night again this year.
“The Flyers will continue to be strong advocates for inclusivity and the LGBTQ+ community.”
The NHL said in a statement that players were “free to decide which initiatives to support.”
“We continue to encourage their voices and perspectives on social and cultural issues.”

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