Inclusion and diversity will be celebrated across Hungry Jack’s NBL during Champion Pride Round beginning this week.
The NBL and Champion, the League’s official on-court apparel partner, will recognise the LGBTQ community by celebrating its strong contributions to the sport and community.Across Round 16 (January 17 –21), all courts will feature Champion’s Pride Progress flag x ‘C’ logo, with players, coaches, and staff having participated in Empowering Allies sessions with Pride in Sport. The sessions, attended by all available players, helps participants understand what makes a good ally, define their own allyship, and build other important skills. “Seeing the NBL’s Champion Pride Round thriving and going in to its second year means a lot to me and the LGBTQ+ community,” Adelaide 36ers star Isaac Humphries said. “Apart from, first and foremost, wanting to live a life out of hiding, I came out with the hope of making basketball a safer space for LGBTQ+ people, so I hope we’re a step closer toward all people feeling like they can be themselves in this community”. “Showing support and continued allyship not only for me but the entire community allows coaches, fellow players, owners, administrators, fans, and the media to make a significant difference for the many who still live silently in the closet”. “I’m very proud to play in a league that is willing to publicly celebrate my community and I know we all appreciate seeing some representation in an environment where it hasn’t always felt the most welcoming”. “Our League welcomes everyone, and we are determined to create an accessible and safe environment for all to enjoy without fear of discrimination,” NBL CEO, David Stevenson, said. “The LGBTQ community plays an important role in our sport and wider society. The courage within this community cannot be understated. It is full of great role models, including Isaac Humphries, who has inspired so many”. Among the various initiatives and activations undertaken by clubs and players, the Perth Wildcats will transform RAC Arena into a ‘Rainbow Jungle’ during Pride Round to celebrate the LGBTQ community like never before. Last November, to announce the return of the round, the NBL and Champion joined forces with an Australian-first ‘PRIDE’ display made entirely from basketballs, donated by Spalding. The highly visible activation signalled that everyone is welcome in basketball and the majority of balls were donated to LGBTQ and community organisations.
“We are thrilled to celebrate the return of Champion Pride Round. The initiative is designed to promote inclusivity and champion active allyship not only within the league, but among fans and the broader sporting community,” general manager, Champion Australia & New Zealand, Sarah Flynn, said.“Champion is committed to making sport more inclusive from grassroots community clubs to elite levels like the NBL. As loud and proud allies of the LGBTIQA+ community, we acknowledge that the game is not over and want to be part of a future where no one questions whether they belong in sport, at any level of ability”. “We look forward to continuing to work with our community partner, the Queer Sporting Alliance, and the NBL to drive this mission and champion a better tomorrow for all”. Players and coaches from across the competition will also share important stories and talk about the significance of the round in a series of videos to be released across social media and on the big screens before games. The NBL and the Australian Basketball Players’ Association (ABPA) have worked closely to emphasise the importance of the Champion Pride Round. “The ABPA respects and supports the rights of all individual players to participate in the NBL Pride Round,” ABPA CEO, Jacob Holmes, said. The NBL is a member of Pride in Sport and is incorporated into the Pride in Sport Index. A recent Pride in Sport survey stated the impact of inclusion initiatives cannot be underestimated with 68.2 per cent of respondents reporting their experience in sport has been positively impacted by active and visible allies. “Pride in Sport commends the NBL for its commitment to promoting LGBTQ inclusion through initiatives like the Champion Pride Round. While the progress we’ve witnessed is remarkable, we acknowledge there is always more work to be done,” Beau Newell, national program manager for Pride in Sport, said. “We stand alongside the NBL, supporting its efforts to foster diversity and inclusivity. Pride in Sport is honoured to be part of this journey, and we look forward to continuing to work together to create an even more inclusive sporting landscape”. Champion Pride Round tips-off on Wednesday night when the South East Melbourne Phoenix host the Adelaide 36ers at the State Basketball Centre at 7:30pm AEDT. The game will be broadcast on ESPN via Kayo Sports.