In sports, biology has been largely exchanged with “gender.” Therefore, in women's athletics, athletes can participate based on their gender identity.
What happens if one's identity is considered to be conventionally Christian?
This question came up over the course of a weekend in North Carolina. In regards to uniforms, this state's National Women's Soccer League franchise took a decision based on ideology. On Friday, it marked “Pride Night,” and the attire of the Courage was designed to be in line with the theme.
A tweet by the team that showed their shirt said, “Thank you to @TheFreshMarket for supporting us on Pride Night…and for your valued partnership with the club!”
One player was not a fan of the outfit: Jaelene Daniels, 29, who refused to cover her body with Rainbow. The result was that she was cut off.
The team issued an announcement before the game:
Jaelene is not on the roster tonight, as she made the choice not to wear the Pride jersey.
They honored her right to lose her eligibility:
Although we're disappointed by her decision, we appreciate that she has the freedom to choose the choice for herself. We're delighted for the occasion to recognize this year's LGBTQIA+ community with our team, players, and supporters tonight, and we're looking at hosting the first Pride Festival before kickoff.
To clarify, Pride Night isn't only an annual event. From ESPN:
The game was played on Friday as one of the team's Pride Night celebrations and also included an official pregame Pride festival, which was organized in conjunction with Harmony: NC LGBT+ Allied Chamber of Commerce and the LGBT Center of Raleigh.
The same observance was advertised earlier in the month on VisitRaleigh.com:
The coalition will host the Pride festival on Friday July 15th from 5-7pm prior to the Courage's game with Angel City at 7:15pm. The event will be held on the grounds of WakeMed Soccer Park and will include regional LGBTQ+ and LGBTQ+-friendly businesses performers, artists, and other entertainers and kid-friendly activities. …
In the Courage's Pride match against Angel City on July 15, NC Courage players will wear Pride jerseys along with Pride shirt tops for pre-match before the match.
NC Courage Pride jerseys, as well as NCFC team-specific Pride scarfs and t-shirts, are available to purchase on the internet and at the in-stadium all year long and the proceeds will go to the LGBT Center in Raleigh.
Returning to Jaelene, it's not her first time in the cultural spaces. Fox News notes she was barred from playing for the women's international team in 2017. The question at the time was, again, the Pride jersey.
Despite the scandal, NC Courage re-signed her in December the next year. Some critics blasted the team and then the team responded:
In reaction to the announcement of the re-signing of Jaelene Daniels: As a team, we recognize the impact that this announcement has had on our community. We've spent the last few days reading your emails and analyzing our actions. We're very sorry for everyone we've injured, particularly those in the LGBTQIA+ group.
The decision to extend the contract of Jaelene was not a decision without a lot of thought and was accompanied by significant conversations between the organization's leadership and Jaelene. The primary concern in these discussions is the security of our players and keeping an open and respectful environment for the entire team.
Jaelene wrote an online letter in which she expressed her love and admiration for her coworkers:
“I remain true to my beliefs and desire to let people know that my affection for them doesn't depend on their beliefs or sexual orientation. I pray, and I firmly believe that my coworkers know how much I appreciate their respect, admire them and cherish them.”
The athlete isn't believed to have spoken out publicly about the incident on Friday, however she has a tweet that is pinned at the very top of her account.
The post contains quotes from Christian Rapper LeCrae:
“If you live for people's acceptance, you'll die from their rejection.”
America has been in the middle of a radical shift. It has been a long-standing belief that “everyone's entitled to their opinion.” In whatever way it is in effect but the implications have definitely changed.
It seems that the concept of tolerance has been shifted into the expectation of participating. Words like “courage,” it seems, are now strongly linked to America's new virtue: Pride.