Friday, January 24, 2020

Rugby star Sonny Bill Williams' bizarro religious beliefs

The Toronto Wolfpack rugby league team has been super-succesful in their unlikely foray into the top British leagues, achieving-to-back promotions over the last two seasons. They now find themselves in the "big league", the Betfred Super League, along with the best of the British rugby league sides.
Instrumental in their success have been their two superstars, New Zealander Sunny Bill Williams and Australian Ricky Leutele. Sunny Bill, however, has been a bit of a prima donna since he got religion some ten years ago - or, more specifically, since he converted from Christianity to Islam. And the way he manifests his deep spirituality is to refuse to wear the team's jersey because it bears the logo of Betfred, a major British bookmaker, which just happens to be the league's main sponsor.
So, it sems that Williams is happy to play in the Betfred league, and to take Betfred's money. He just doesn't want to wear a rugby jersey saying so. The Toronto Wolfpack management, desperate to retain his services, is tying themselves in knots trying to accommodate him, talking about him maybe wearing an alternative jersey, or just covering up the offending logo in some way. Could he not have figured this out when he joined the club this last year? Why did he even agree to play in the Betfred League if he is so philosophically opposed to gambling?
Apparently, he has done this kind of thing before, when he was playing rugby union for the New Zealand All Blacks, and with the Aukland Blues. He refused to wear a jersey with the logo of the Bank of New Zealand, because banks are, well, they're evil, arent't they? I'm sure he didn't mind investing his substantial earnings in a bank, but apparently he had a "conscientious objection" clause in his contract, which he explained as follows: "My objection to wearing clothing that markets banks, alcohol and gambling companies is central to my religious beliefs".
I'm sure Mohammed would be proud of him, but everyone else finds it downright puzzling, especially the apparent double-standards he seems able to reconcile in his mind.

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