June is Pride Month and as sporting people we are seeing more and more weeks, rounds and months where certain issues are being highlighted.
This may be volunteer recognition week, the Speak Up Stay CHATTY round, in this case, pride round as part of pride month or on the big footy Sir Doug Nichols Round.
Why do we need these rounds and these sorts of awareness campaigns?
Well, to put it as bluntly as possible, people still just don’t get it.
They don’t get that something like the Sir Doug Nichols Round in the big footy is a big step toward reconciliation with the First Nations community, remembering we play on a land never ceded by treaty.
They don’t get that almost exclusively community sport is run by volunteers who give their time for no recompense and the love of the game and receive precious little in the way of thanks other than what is often lip service at the annual dinner.
They don’t get that mental health is a huge issue for people playing sport as it is usually people of that age who suffer the hardest which can lead to us visiting Mersey Vale instead of Maidstone Park when we go to Spreyton.
They just don’t get that for a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, sport is as scary as all hell as member of the rainbow community try to assimilate as to not be outed or exposed as different, something they have fought for years to try and retrain their brains to understand.
Pride month is a very important facet of the sporting calendar as clubs and association try to create a safe space for athletes to come and enjoy sport and inclusion and feel, whether it is just for an afternoon per week, that they belong.
It’s an extreme challenge for everyone from club presidents to coaches to be as inclusive as possible, especially when dealing with people who don’t give it a second thought that they may be offensive or are hard liners who believe it is wrong to be LGBT. Those people need inclusion too.
My overarching theory around pride month is one of inclusion, tolerance and acceptance. We live in a civilised community where we are encouraged to be ourselves and be the best individual we can be. Pride month is a great time to explore ourselves and work out how we, can be as inclusive as possible and help all walks of life participate.
We love our sport and the freedom to play, why not share that with someone from a different group.
Remember, 100 percent of people not playing sport are not enjoying playing sport.