A disappointed Isaac Humphries has questioned Cairns’ decision not to wear jerseys to celebrate the NBL’s first round of Pride.
The Melbourne United forward, the league’s first active openly gay player, revealed the mental health struggles he’d been going through while coming to terms with his sexuality in an emotional speech to team-mates last November.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Pride jersey drama hits the NBL.
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The NBL said the round is designed “to promote, celebrate, and thank the LGBTQ community while showcasing basketball as a sport that strives to create a safe, healthy, and accessible environment for all.”
Teams were given access to awareness training sessions and offered the opportunity to wear a themed jersey with a small, rainbow-colored logo throughout the round.
However, Taipans players opted not to wear the shirt in Wednesday’s loss to South East Melbourne, arguing they were protecting one or more unnamed players from the team who had been abused and “slandered” after reports of their hesitation to wear the shirt for religious reasons.
Cairns manager Adam Forde insisted the club supported the Pride Round concept but was protecting its players, closing down further questions and not allowing player Ben Ayres to respond when asked to explain the squad’s decision.
Her move was met with fierce criticism in some circles. Swinburne University sports innovation expert Ryan Storr called it “a kick in the face” and “one of the worst PR and communication attempts I’ve seen related to LGBTIQ+ inclusion”.
Humphries told ESPN, “When it comes to inclusion, I will always stand up and speak out when my sport and community requires it, and I am disappointed in my LGBTQ+ family of athletes and coaches who are keeping quiet in the closet.” Life.”
“If we are to move forward with true equality, justice and inclusion in sport for LGBTQ+ athletes, we must start by being honest. We have to acknowledge that there is a problem,” he said.
“I will continue to encourage us all to come together, respect one another, uplift one another and I will use my platform to give a voice to the voiceless. Each of us has to ask ourselves: What kind of courage did we show when our moment of leadership came?”
It is expected that no other teams will shy away from wearing the special kit.
United play New Zealand on Saturday and Breakers manager Mody Maor is hoping the controversy will help spur growth and change in the sport and beyond.
“I don’t think the fact that a discussion arises from this is a problem. I actually think it’s the whole goal,” he said after Thursday’s defeat to Brisbane.
“It’s okay that this is a controversial topic and it’s okay that it needs to be discussed. This is where growth and change come from.
“And I’m proud of the NBL because it’s one of the vehicles to facilitate that change and that growth in our society.”
https://7news.com.au/sport/basketball/first-openly-gay-nbl-player-isaac-humphries-reacts-to-cairns-taipans-pride-round-decision-there-is-a-problem-c-9572331 First openly gay NBL player Isaac Humphries reacts to Cairns Taipans Pride Round decision: ‘There’s a problem’