Trouble piles on for Jason Akermanis the Aussie Football League player who said gay athletes should stay closeted. First he stuck his foot in his mouth, then Akermanis said that his column had been edited to sound more homophobic (a lie, it turns out). A lot of guys in Ackermanis’ league started calling him out and some of his teammates said that all the press attention from the article effected their playing. And now after telling him to shut up, Akcermanis’ team The Western Bulldogs has demoted him. The only person in Akermanis’ corner? His brother.
Here’s what Jason’s younger brother Rory has to say:
“I know I’m biased, but every time he has an opinion people want to shoot him down. He wasn’t gay bashing. He was just saying the culture is not right to have a gay player come out. In my opinion, if a bloke does come out he would get hounded by opposition supporters. It would be sad, I think… what’s done is done… Whether he lied about the column or not, it doesn’t affect how he plays football. He just wants to get on with playing football … he wants to get his nerve right. I’m hoping they do nothing, just say that he needs a rest. I don’t know why they’d want to put him on suspension for writing an article.”
It’s sweet that Lil’ Akermanis has come out in support of his big bro, but Akermanis’ team had every right to dismiss him if they wanted. Not because he spoke the mind of athletic homophobes everywhere, but because he put himself above his team by doing so. Sports teams have PR people and athletes have agents to prevent these sorts of needless statements from starting. Akermanis didn’t merely acknowledge homophobia in the sports world, he advocated it. (He also warned of all the “other” people who are homophobes, which is a bigot’s most-used, and worst, disguise.) In doing so, he stepped out of his role as an athlete and became a spokesperson on the wrong side of a politically-charged topic.
Hey Jason, how about healing that injured hamstring and playing ball instead?
That’s not to say that Akermanis should have been sacked (albeit temporarily), but it’s ironic that he worried that “the publicity associated with a current player admitting he’s gay… could break the fabric of a club” when the publicity he’s generated as a current player speaking against gays has easily done the same thing.