Developing LGBT+ Inclusive Supporter Groups in the Big Bash League
Authors: Storr, R., Knijnik, J., Parry, K.D., Collinson, A. and Staples, E.
Publisher: Western Sydney University
Sport is an integral part of both Australian culture and identity. However, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities (LGBT+) face extra barriers and challenges to engagement and participation in sport. This study, formed through a partnership between Western Sydney University and Cricket Victoria, aimed to better understand how LGBT+ supporter/ coterie groups could be initiated and supported in the Big Bash League. Twenty-Four key stakeholders and informants drawn from Australian Football League (AFL) LGBT+ supporter groups, AFL administrators, cricket administrators, and LGBT+ cricket fans were interviewed to collect comprehensive data on the requirements for successful LGBT+ supporter group formation in cricket and the Big Bash League.
Our results reveal a strong desire to include more LGBT+ communities in cricket, with the Big Bash League identified as an ideal opportunity due to its family-oriented nature. However, it was felt by participants that there was a lack of understanding and education of LGBT+-related issues within the cricket community. The experiences of those involved in AFL support groups have been overwhelmingly positive and provide a compelling case for the introduction of LGBT+ supporter groups in cricket, from both a social inclusion and financial management perspective. We conclude that the introduction of LGBT+ supporter groups in cricket has the potential to impact positively the lives of LGBT+ communities, providing a platform for them to engage with sport in a meaningful and positive way.
Three key messages were identified for those wishing to set up LGBT+ supporter groups: 1. Groups should be developed from the bottom up, being driven by LGBT+ fans and members rather than purely from the organisation. A partnership approach between Cricket Victoria/Big Bash League clubs and local LGBT+ communities also provides an avenue to facilitate training and education on LGBT+-related issues for staff and players.
2. Institutional support is crucial for such an initiative to succeed; 3. Clear policies are needed to support supporter groups and to address any negative responses. This policy should also address behaviour by players and staff to ensure that the institutional commitment to inclusion is not undermined.