NRL news 2022: Manly pride jersey saga’s most baffling detail

Adult straight men are the biggest crybabies.

They constantly need to be fed, smell gross and throw tantrums when they don’t like the outfits you try putting them in.

The seven Manly Sea Eagles players who boycotted a game this week because of a refusal to wear the club’s pride jersey acted like they were three-year-olds getting force-fed yucky vegetables while being wrestled into matching OshKosh B’gosh ensembles.

After the saga dominated the headlines for days, it was then revealed the players wouldn’t even be at the ground to watch Manly’s clash against the Roosters on Thursday night, based on security advice.

Security advice, huh? Makes sense. Ya gotta be careful when it comes to those gays. Find yourself alone in a dark alley with one and you run the risk of having a glitter cannon blasted in your face while Kylie Minogue blares from the speakers of a nearby idling Fiat.

Really, there was a simple solution to the behaviour of the seven grumbly players. Act like a baby? Get treated like a baby.

Leading child psychologists often recommend providing your bratty child with two options in order to get them to do what you want, so they feel they at least have some control over the situation.

“Would you like either carrot sticks or cherry tomatoes for a snack?”

“Would you like to play jump rope or hula hoop?”

“Would you like to start your homework with times tables or spelling?”

You’re still getting the child to do what you want and giving them what they need, but you’re empowering them by making them think the decision is up to them.

Grumpy football players are no different. Give them two LGBTQIA-themed jersey options and let them decide.

“Would you like to wear the jersey with the barely noticeable rainbow on it? Or the jersey screen-printed with a selection of RuPaul’s Drag Race memes?”

Guarantee, come Thursday night, those seven players would’ve been running onto the field with smiles as wide as the rainbows stretching across their chests.

Or the club could’ve taken even more extreme measures by looking overseas at French rugby team Biarritz Olympique, who last year signed Grindr – the world’s largest gay, bi, trans and queer dating app – as its new sponsorship partner. The reported $6 million dollar deal has seen the Biarritz Olympique boys now hitting the field with the giant yellow Grindr logo on their chests as a part of the club’s pledge to “participate in the fight against homophobia”.

The seven Manly Sea Eagles players — Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolutau Koula and Toafofoa Sipley — opposed to wearing the jersey, which features rainbow-coloured piping, for religious and cultural reasons.

In situations like this, it’s important not to disregard someone’s beliefs or feelings and instead work to understand the emotion behind it. For the seven Manly Sea Eagles players, they were probably reacting out of fear.

To help settle this fright, education and information can help.

Leading scientists from several global institutes told conclusively that you can’t catch gay from a T-shirt.

Ironically, many gay men around the country had their sexualities confirmed in childhood when their sport-loving dads made them watch football matches that often included brawny players accidentally ripping each other’s shorts down mid-tackle.

As a side note: what’s with some of the footy players who wear Speedos instead of underwear beneath their shorts? That’s a one-way ticket to a smattering of chafe and folliculitis. Forget about Grindr coming on board as a sponsor – NRL teams should partner with a prescription hydrocortisone ointment.

The most baffling thing about the pride jersey saga is, of all the embarrassing rubbish Australian footy players have done in public over the decades, this is where they draw the line. A rainbow jersey?

Mad Mondays have become part of Australian sporting lore – a wild 24-hour period where grown male footballers blow off steam during end-of-season celebrations that go off the rails.

How far off the rails do these Mad Mondays get? Lest we forget Brendan Fevola frolicking around on a busy Melbourne intersection in a nightie with a sex toy protruding from his pants in 2008.

Or the Bulldogs’ 2018 Mad Monday antics that saw players allegedly put their penises in drinking glasses at a pub before grabbing each other’s crotches.

And what about in 2013, when a Saints player allegedly set a dwarf on fire?

If anything, a rainbow jersey is actually very tasteful, in the tradition of Australian football.

Twitter, Facebook: @hellojamesweir

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