Australian/UK Rugby League stars Sam and Thomas Burgess have joined their South Sydney Rabbitohs teammate, Greg Inglis, in calling for an end to homophobia in sport. Sam and Thomas Burgess have also recorded a video, to be distributed via social media, encouraging people to take 10 minutes to tell their story in the first national and international study on homophobia in sport.
“I don’t see why there should be any discrimination about colour, sexuality, your heritage or where you’re from. Sport is a great thing, and it brings people from all different aspects of life together, so why should your sexuality be a problem? The only way we are going to understand the issue is if people get out there and tell their story so we can help fix it,” said Sam Burgess.
Thomas Burgess agreed and said, “We have a lot of gay friends and think that discrimination in sport is old fashioned and there is no place for it. In this day and age, we shouldn’t be discriminating against anyone, for anything."
The Burgess Brothers, who play for the team co-owned by Russel Crowe, say they are surprised there aren’t more openly gay players in professional sports. They say the study on homophobia in sports will help everyone understand why players don’t feel safe in coming out of the closet.
The study, called “Out on the Fields” is an initiative of the organisers of Bingham Cup Sydney 2014 and is first broad-based Australian and international study on the issue of homophobia in sport. Participation is open to everyone regardless of sexuality. Those interested can visit www.outonthefields.com. Among other things, the study looks at whether people choose not to play team sports because of fear of discrimination as well as the prevalence of homophobia, such as slurs, among athletes and fans.
The support from the Burgess Brothers follows support from Greg Inglis, who attended an announcement last month by all the major, Australian professional sports who pledged to ‘eliminate’ homophobia. At the time Inglis said homophobia in sport needs to end, “If you stamp that out, then it will probably help players that come out a bit more. I'm a big believer, a firm believer, in respecting what others are and who they are. I'm definitely happy to put my hand up and be one of the leaders behind this great initiative."
Andrew Purchas is a current player as well as founder of the Sydney Convicts Rugby Club, Australia’s first gay rugby team and president of the Bingham Cup Sydney 2014, the world cup of gay rugby. “Sam and Tom Burgess are highly respected locally and overseas for their no nonsense approach to football. Their support for their gay friends and recognition that the only way to eliminate homophobia is to talk about the issue and encourage people to tell their stories will send a strong message to players and fans. This is why it’s so important people take part in this study on homophobia in sport in Australia and around the world. We need to understand the extent of the problem so we can address it now and we have a baseline to track whether there have been any changes over the coming years. It only takes 10 minutes for people to take part in the study and share their story. We also appreciate that the NRL is tackling head on the issue of homophobia in sports. They responded swiftly and decisively to the recent homophobic slur during the U20 State of Origin match and recently became first football code to join Pride in Diversity, Australia’s peak body for employer GLBT programs.”
The Australian Sports Commission will conduct similar research on homophobia in future years. Out on the Fields is being conducted by sports research company Repucom. The results and final report will be reviewed by researchers at 6 universities around the world.
The study is at: www.outonthefields.com.
To watch the full video, please press play on the video player.