National Basketball League’s Inaugural Pride Round Will Celebrate Australia’s LGBT Community

National Basketball League’s Inaugural Pride Round Will Celebrate Australia’s LGBT Community
Image: Isaac Humphries is the first male player in a top-tier basketball league in the world to come out as gay. Image: Instagram

Months after Australian basketball star Isaac Humphries came out as gay, Australia’s National Basketball league has invited its players to wear rainbow jerseys for the inaugural Champions Pride Round from January 25-30, 2023. 

Melbourne United National Basketball League Club player Humphries welcomed the Pride round and spoke about his experience after coming out to his teammates. 

“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 in a statement.

“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.”

Basketball Is For Everyone

Humphries said the Champions Pride Round would be “another step towards the League and basketball becoming a more comfortable and welcoming environment.”

The Pride Round will kick off on January 25, when the South East Melbourne Phoenix meets Cairns Taipans at the State Basketball Centre in Melbourne. Humphries’ Melbourne United will take on New Zealand Breakers during Champion Pride Round on Saturday.

“Basketball is for everyone and we have always been strong advocates for diversity and inclusion,” NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger said in a press statement. “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.”

Rainbow Jerseys

NBL said that for the Pride Round, all courts would display the Champion’s Pride Progress flag  ‘C’ logo. In light of recent controversies over Manly players refusing to wear rainbow jerseys, NBL has not made it mandatory to wear the Pride jerseys. 

“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,” said Loeliger. 

The NBL Commissioner cited the recent Pride In Sport survey that found 80 per cent of respondents had witnessed or experienced homophobia in sports. Around 60 per cent of those who participated in the study said that they would be likely to join a sport if the apex sporting body had a positive track record on LGBTQI inclusion. 

“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 added.

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