Way back at the 1968 Olympics, the winners of the 200m Tommie Smith and John Carlos had raised black gloves on the podium of the medal ceremony. The two were promptly dealt with severe sanctions. The recent protests in USA after the killing of George Floyd have once again brought up the issue of racism. Sport is also a reflection of the values of society and thus continues so witness such incidents.
Black Lives Matter
Started from last Wednesday, English Premier League players will have “Black Lives Matter” written on their jerseys instead of names for the first 12 games after the competition resumes next week following the COVID-19 hiatus. In addition, the league will support players who “take a knee” before or during matches
In Bundesliga too, Borussia Dortmund`s Jordon Sancho celebrated his first goal against Paderborn by removing his jersey to reveal a hand written `Justice for George Floyd` message.
We often here of the same cases in international football in Europe. Racism is not only in Football, it is in cricket too.
Racism exists in cricket too
West Indies Opener Chris Gayle is an appeal on social media, he stated that the peril of racism exists in cricket too and he has also faced racism within teams and across the globe. Recently Darren Sammy raised the issue of facing a similar insult by one of his team mates in Sunrisers Hyderabad.
South Africa banned
Although sports bodies do pay up service by sporting banners against racism this has not helped to prevent the issue from raising its head often. However, among all these drawbacks persisting in society and sports there has been an instance when the world of sport look in consistent and hard stand against South Africa for its system of apartheid. The International Olympic Committee banned South Africa from competing at the Olympics.
Also the International Cricket Council banned them from the regular countries competing against them in test cricket from 1964 onwards. Of course this ban has to be followed by a concerted effort by reformers like Nelson Mandela and others to finally dismantle the system of apartheid in South Africa and they were finally readmitted to international sports in the nineties. However with the pre-eminent position of the USA at the Olympics and in the world of sport, no one as of yet has thought of taking such a strict action against USA as they did against South Africa. True that will not ensure that racism will be wiped out by the step taken by the sports bodies but it could be a step in the right direction .
England fast bowler Jofra Archer calls for action after receiving racist abuse on social media while New Zealand Cricket announced that a 28 year old man, who admitted the offense had been banned from attending international and domestic games in the country for two years. In the southern part of India, even Doda Ganesh and Abhinav Mukund faced such type of problems in their career.
Sport is much larger than professional sport acting as a business and this is the time for sports bodies to show that there is some ethics still left in sport of today. The point we are trying to make is modern professional sports tends to be totally dependent on TV revenues and sponsorships. Does it is difficult for the world body to boycott USA as it may result in the huge loss of revenues.
(The writer, a former National Junior Champion in Athletics, studied Sports Science at Loughborough University, UK.)