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Doug Pollard's Rainbow Report airs Thursday 1900-2000hrs AEST Joy 94.9 FM Melbourne Australia, streaming worldwide and via the Joy iPhone app, available free from iTunes. Follow The Rainbow Reporter on Facebook and @rainbowreporter on Twitter. He also edits The Stirrer You will find Doug from time to time on the Drum, Crikey, and wherever else he can earn a crust. But wherever you find him, the opinions belong to him and not to the platform he's standing on.

Akermanis on gays in the AFL

August 20th 2008 08:22
Jason Akermanis
Jason Akermanis

'Aka' is always outspoken, and often in trouble for it, and he's the one who has broken the AFL players silence on the issue of gays in Australian Rules Football.

Outwardly it's the issue the AFL don't want to touch. On my radio show a senior AFL official said, in effect, that if a player came out, then the anti-vilification rules would of course apply, but to date no one has, and until they do, the AFL can't do anything.

That's nonsense, of course, but the hierarchy is for some reason terrified of taking a pro-active stance and making it safe for a player to come out.

Aka explains why that might not be the best approach. He describes the way players regularly call one another 'poofters' (and other jibes with the same meaning) when they're on the pitch.

This is the first time I can recollect anyone from the AFL admitting publicly that this sort of homophobic sledging goes on.

The AFL says they can't stop that until a player complains he's been vilified on the grounds of his sexual orientation - which is nonsense. The AFL has made it plain that racist language is unacceptable. They could make it equally plain in a second that homophobic language and behaviour is taboo, too.

But that would be tantamount to admitting there are gay players in the sport - something Aka (and simple common sense) confirms.

Clearly the issue is boiling up inside the sport, with comments in the press from coach Kevin Sheedy, former captain (and now club director Nathan Burke), and now veteran player Jason Akermanis.

But Aka is the first to point a possible way forward. Assured of the support and shelter of the hierarchy, the first gay player to come out could reap a fortune in endorsements, as well as easing at one move the horrible burden of insult and vilification from other players at all levels.

It will take big shoulders to carry all that. But there's no shortage of them in the sport!
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5 Comments. [ Add A Comment ]

Comment by Mountain Fog

August 20th 2008 15:25
Now that I would like to see!
I've met gay footy players, from AFL and rugby, there were quite a few of them actually. I think, if I was a palyer, I would hate coming out, as the showers would become a terrible anguish, for each time you would be subjected to either ribbing or a wide berth, some players instantly forgetting that the week before they ahd no problem with you showering with them.

If there were a separate shower and toilet, then I would come out in that situation, making it easy on everyone all round.



Comment by Morgan Bell

August 21st 2008 07:21
well there was Ian Roberts in the NRL who kind of became the poster boy for gay footballers, i dont think his sporting career lasted much longer than his coming out but he had a huge career as a gay dance party celebrity icon after that

Comment by Doug Pollard

August 21st 2008 08:52
Yes - everyone thought that once Ian Roberts came out others would follow, but the ground hadn't been prepared. This time out there's a lot of behind the scenes activity and discussion of which this Akermanis piece is but a part. We shall see........

Comment by Smooth Political

August 22nd 2008 03:10
Let people do their job. GEEEEZ

Comment by Anonymous

August 7th 2009 07:22
Nathan van Berlo is not gayy(:

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