Just a matter of days ago, the NRL was embroiled in controversy regarding the #Manly7's decision not to play, based on the fact that they were required to don a special edition jersey with rainbow piping to promote inclusivity, particularly with reference to the LGBTQ community.
"Well I respect them for their decision," said Andrew Johns on Channel Nine's segment 'Freddy and the Eighth'.
"If your beliefs are that strong that you're prepared to back yourself when you know that the angry mob are going to come at you... it says something about how staunch your beliefs are."
"If you go and call it 'inclusivity round' then you've got to also include people that don't believe in it (embracing those with LGBTQ proclivity)" echoed NSW Origin coach Brad Fittler.
The move to implement a 'pride' jersey (in the middle of #womeninleague round no less), drew criticism from many figures within the game, most notably with reference to the lack of consultation with the players who'd have to wear the jersey.
Fittler's protestations that the game needs to find time to embrace those who see others as inferior, not through choice but through who have been born to be, are incredulous. The game has already shown that it is willing to give a second chance to drink drivers, those who are guilty of assault and drug convictions and so on.
Sexuality is as innate as the colour of your skin. For those who don't agree, ask yourself when it was that you consciously 'chose' your sexuality.
At the eve of the pride jersey game against the Roosters, I supported the players decision for refusing to play based on their set of principles.
But many followers of the game find it hard to appreciate the concept that simply because a principle or belief is rooted in religion, that it somehow is entitled to unquestionable respect.
Other peoples' opinions are not always worthy of respect. It is possible to respect a person while staunchly disrespecting their position on a certain topic, particularly if it carries with it the element of discrimination.
People hold prejudices over others, based on ethnicity, sexuality, gender, disability and religion, and that is their prerogative. It might have been how they were raised or how they came to experience society.
But where it crosses the line and becomes an issue of discrimination is when those prejudices become actions that affect the lives of others.
A player who refuses to play footy because of a belief only disadvantages themselves, on the face of it. But there are others who are affected as a by-product, whether obvious or not.
The NRL has made it very clear where it stands on discrimination, and the #Manly7 choose to participate in a competition where the hierarchy holds and actively promotes opposing views to their own. While the NRL appears to 'virtue signal' on a check-box calendar basis, the fact remains irrelevant. Players sign up to the NRL, and a charter of behaviours and attitudes where they agree not to bring the game into disrepute.
My heart breaks for players who are secretly LGBTQ and do not have the courage to come out because of a fear of being ostracised by their own team mates.
If someone wants to publicise a prejudice in the face of an 'angry mob' as the Eighth Immortal Andrew Johns puts it, then they know well what to expect.
They wear their colours on their jersey every day thereafter as a result.
But what to make of those who are persecuted or oppressed into feeling shame about who they are, just so that they don't ruffle any feathers? Is it right for the angry mob to speak out for them? Or should it all be swept under the rug out of respect for a religion that promotes prejudice?
If talking about a disdain for LGBTQ people isn't cause for concern for you, simply replace 'LGBTQ' with 'women', or 'people with disabilities' or 'people of other ethnicity'.