BEHIND THE DESK: Is there room for ‘politics’ in sport?
ELITE SPORT A PLATFORM TO RAISE AWARENESS
THERE has been a great deal of controversy over the solidarity from professional athletes getting behind the Black Live Matter movement.
Racism has long been an issue embedded into Australian culture and sport has always been a target for casual racism. You don’t have to look far to see that.
Indigenous former Sydney Swans star Adam Goodes’ story might ring a bell.
His documentary The Final Quarter, demonstrated the complete lack of progress we have made in educating ourselves over what is right and wrong.
The key driving factor in the current movement was the death of American man George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis. We all know this, but the issue is far more complex.
Some may disagree and argue that ‘All Lives Matter,’ and no one is denying that, but the issue is far more prominent in the indigenous community and I am proud to see Australian AFL and NRL players taking a knee in solidarity for the cause.
Most recently, the English Premier League returned from an enforced COVID-19 break yesterday and included the Black Lives Matter slogan on the back of every jersey where the players name usually lies.
I feel it is important to use this platform to help people see the severity of the issue and to encourage change.
POLITICS IS ALWAYS IN SPORT
IN 2016 when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem of the United States, it was a simple act of defiance and protest against racism and police brutality, an issue just as important today.
It was a peaceful protest, and one that ignited debate and conversation. Whether it has changed anything is yet to be decided, as there have been many examples and deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police since 2016.
Sport absolutely has a place in helping to shape and define popular culture, and anyone who says that politics does not belong in sport either has a short memory or doesn’t like the politics our modern sportspeople are brave enough to speak about.
Turn the clock back to the Ancient Greeks, and their Olympic Games
The Ancient Olympics were political, and a truce was enforced during the games so rival city-states could compete against one another, and revel in their dominance over their neighbours not on the battle field, but in the arena.
At the Mexico City games in 1968, Tommie Smith and John Carlos committed another peaceful act of protest, and effectively ended their Olympic careers, much like Kaepernick.
Sport can certainly help share political messages, as long as there’s sportspeople brave enough to stand up for what’s right.