The Hungry Jack’s NBL will continue to celebrate inclusion and diversity during its inaugural Champion Pride Round in Round 17. Champion Pride Round will promote, celebrate and give thanks to the LGBTQ community, while showcasing basketball as a sport striving to provide a safe, healthy and accessible environment for all. In recognition of Champion Pride Round, all courts will display Champion’s Pride Progress flag x ‘C’ logo and all players will be invited to wear jerseys featuring that same logo. In addition, players, coaches, and staff have had the opportunity to participate in LGBTQ awareness training.
“Basketball is for everyone and we have always been strong advocates for diversity and inclusion. We will do all we can to ensure the NBL is a community where everyone is welcomed and supported, and individuals are encouraged to be themselves without fear of discrimination or judgement,”
NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger said.
“We acknowledge, at times, there will be challenges with various stances we take as an organisation and they may 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. The NBL is of the view the LGBTQ community plays a crucial role in supporting inclusion and diversity in all aspects of society by encouraging and giving others the confidence to be themselves, no matter how or where they choose to work and play. Champion Pride Round is a way for us to acknowledge and thank the LGBTQ community.”
A recent Pride in Sport study revealed 80 per cent of participants have witnessed or experienced homophobia in sport, and 60 per cent believe a sporting organisation’s positive track record on LGBTQ inclusion would positively influence them to join the sport.
“Understanding these kinds of challenges is critical if we are to overcome them, but I’m sure many people, myself included until recently, would not be aware of the extent of some of them. That’s why we believe that it’s important to raise and discuss such matters of societal impact,” Loeliger said.
Melbourne United star Isaac Humphries brings a unique perspective, having recently spoken about his own experiences as a professional athlete and as part of the LGBTQ community.
“Since I made my announcement, not only has it made me feel free and happy, but it has also inspired me to help create serious change and set an example that you can be a professional athlete, or anything you want to be, and still be gay,” Humphries said. “The support I have received has been overwhelming and I’ve been so thankful for that. The challenge now is to help others on their journey and make a real change. “I welcome the NBL’s inaugural Champion Pride Round, as it is another step towards the League and basketball becoming a more comfortable and welcoming environment.”
The NBL has worked closely with the Australian Basketball Players’ Association (ABPA) to highlight the importance of Champion Pride Round.
“As the Players’ Association, we represent, support and empower a diverse playing group which is reflective of the broader community. The Pride Round provides an opportunity to celebrate the value of diversity within the League and society,” ABPA CEO Jacob Holmes said. “The ABPA supports the Round as a step towards greater inclusion and acceptance at all levels of our great game. We believe in the recognition of the human rights and respect for individual’s choices and continue to work with all our members in our sport.”
The NBL is a member of Pride in Sport and is in the process of being incorporated into the Pride in Sport Index. Pride in Sport is a national not-for-profit sporting inclusion program specifically designed to assist sporting organisations of all levels with the inclusion of employees, athletes, coaches, volunteers and spectators with diverse sexualities and genders. The Pride in Sport Index (PSI) benchmarks and assesses the inclusion of LGBTQ people across all sporting contexts.
“Pride in Sport congratulates the NBL for holding its inaugural Champion Pride Round. It demonstrates its ongoing commitment to the greater inclusion and wellbeing of LGBTQ players, members and fans,” National Program Manager of Pride in Sport Beau Newell said. “By holding events that celebrate and embrace diversity, the NBL is helping to make a more inclusive environment for its fans, players, volunteers, and staff.”
Champion General Manager, ANZ, Sarah Flynn, said the company was honoured to present the Champion Pride Round as part of its ongoing commitment towards creating a more inclusive and diverse world.
“Celebrating inclusivity, solidarity, identity, and advocacy are key pillars of Champion,” Flynn said.
Champion Pride Round tips-off on Wednesday, January 25, when the South East Melbourne Phoenix host the Cairns Taipans at the State Basketball Centre. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN via Kayo and Foxtel.