I can't remember the last time I watched an NRL match - probably back in the early days of the Warriors when Stacey Jones was a sporting idol.

But I tuned in on Sunday night to watch the pre-match entertainment at the Melbourne Storm v North Queensland Cowboys grand final in Sydney. After all the hullabaloo about Macklemore performing, I was curious to see how his performance would go down with the crowd.

For those who missed it, the American rapper was hired by the NRL to do the pre-match show. One of his biggest hits (recorded with Ryan Lewis) is Same Love - an anthem about LGBTIQ rights that was recorded during a campaign to legalise same-sex marriage in Washington State.

And as we know, the Australians are currently taking part in a postal vote on same-sex marriage.


In the days leading up to the match the decision copped a huge backlash, with the NRL accused of politicising sport and giving unfair promotion to the Yes campaign.

Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott weighed in, tweeting: "Footy fans shouldn't be subjected to a politicised grand final. Sport is sport!"

And a former player started an online petition demanding the song not be played and that "LGBTIQ politics is taken out of the NRL".

In the end it was all a bit of a storm in a teacup. Macklemore and Mary Lambert sang the song, the rapper calling out "Equality for all" at the end before launching into another of his hits.

The game kicked off, the crowd watched the footy and all was well - for the Storm fans at least.

To argue that sport is "just sport" ignores the realities of today's world. In a social media world sports stars have huge platforms and many use those to speak out on issues such as equality. And why shouldn't they?

Sportspeople are more than just league or rugby or netball players. They are people with families and friends and social consciences. So too are sports fans.

Perhaps those worried about the "politicising of sport" should give the public a bit more credit. I reckon most are capable of listening to a song about equality AND enjoying a sports match AND making their own mind up about how to vote.

I for one enjoyed Macklemore's performance and admit it brought a little tear to the eye. And I admire the NRL for doing the right thing and taking a stand for equality.

I still didn't watch the game though. I think I will wait until the Warriors make the grand final.