'Walking the line’: Sporting bodies, social media and the politics of free speech, religion and discrimination

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Social media technologies provide an unregulated space where free speech is encouraged and this has had a substantial impact on interactions between athletes and the wider community. As such, many professional and elite athletes engage in social media on several levels including those sites which allow players to voice their unmediated selves such as the Players Voice website in Australia. There are, however, examples of athletes’ promoting views which are counter to the views of their organisations and which may be deemed discriminatory in these social media spaces. One such example of this occurring is Australian rugby union player, Israel Folau’s ‘anti-gay’ comments in 2018, which he defended on religious grounds. When such an incident occurs, it is the responsibility of the sporting association to determine the course of action and whether sanctions are warranted. In the case of Folau, the governing body took no action on what seemed to be breaches Rugby Australia policies. This paper uses Folau as a case study to examine the competing liberties of religion and LGBTI rights.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2019
Event2019 World Congress of Sociology of Sport - University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
Duration: 24 Apr 201927 Apr 2019
https://www.otago.ac.nz/issa-2019/otago710017.pdf (program)
https://www.otago.ac.nz/issa-2019/otago710016.pdf (conference booklet with abstracts)


Conference2019 World Congress of Sociology of Sport
Abbreviated titleSociology of Sport and Alternative Futures
Country/TerritoryNew Zealand
Internet address


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