Racism in Sport is Actually Pretty Black and White – Issue 15
Fun fact: Racism actually predates sport. In fact, the Bible hardly mentions sport at all but isn’t so great on the whole “coloured slave girls” bit. It’s almost like we shouldn’t use that book for cues on race, or invading Palestine.
Anyway, you would be forgiven for thinking the two were largely symbiotic because it seems every time we talk sports we are having conversations about race. Whether that is the coded dog whistling of the late 90s where they were talking about “Serena and Venus having an unfair genetic advantage” or the more open grunting and calling the Williams sisters apes. While it is easy to make the argument that tennis is full of strawberry and cream eating, shit-cunt racists it might shock you to learn that racism in sport wasn’t just limited to tennis.
Ask (I assume) any uncle you have. Coded or uncoded this should have been stopped years ago. And the only way we can do it is to call it out. While I could write pages on how Tiger Woods was treated throughout his career, and how the media wrote “it was only a matter of time before he cheated” articles, or how at any local game of rugby you will hear some old white dude talk about needing “more Islanders in the forward pack”, I won’t do that. Instead I want to spend the next few hundred words on this week’s white guilt thesis I am calling “Fuck you Boris you inbred, entitled prick.”
Before I get into that, here is at least some context. Football didn’t come home this month. It stayed out with it’s friends at a party in Rome and, to the best of my knowledge, has not contacted it’s parents since 1966. There is a very necessary autopsy currently taking place as to coaching decisions. There is also, finally, a discussion on the impact of racial abuse and how coaches can best equip themselves to deal with that. In England’s ill fated penalty shootout the three players who missed were all people of colour ranging in age from 17 to 22. While the coach clearly makes those decisions on the field, he needed to contextualise what the moment for a 17 year-old black man in England meant and whether putting the hopes and burden of a nation on his shoulders was the right move. Ultimately though it is his call.
That said, FUCK YOU BORIS!
Two weeks earlier, this pantomime villain with impossibly blonde hair and a Wikipedia page that (and this is true) can only offer an estimate of his illegitimate children – came out in favour of people’s right to boo an England team for taking a knee against racism pre-kick off, going so far as to call it a political stunt. Others in his cabinet also lambasted Marcus Rashford MBE prior to the tournament for devoting too much time to campaigning for kids to get school lunches and starting reading programmes.
Flash forward to the night of England’s latest disappointment and Boris is making a statement about how there is no room for racism in sports after Rashford’s mural is defaced and those three players and their families are receiving death threats. The ability of those privileged white aristocrats to only see irony as something impacting the working class is astounding. He barely had time to hide the matches behind his back before he started putting out the fire. Meanwhile twelve-hours after Boris’ laughable call for civility, a member of his own party Dover MP Natalie Elphicke sent a series of now deleted tweets telling Rashford he should have been practicing penalties, not feeding kids. To use a sporting idiom you guys aren’t fit to lace the man’s boots.
Conscious of already laughably destroying a word count I wanted to end on an unusually optimistic note. New Zealand Cricketing icon Martin Crowe once famously questioned whether Māori and Pacific players had the temperament for Test Cricket. A few years later, in several op-eds and interviews he acknowledged how wrong he was and became a mentor for a number of players. Not because of media pressure, but because he reflected and changed. That led to a long term mentoring relationship and seemingly parental bond with Ross Taylor, who would go on to surpass all Crowe’s records. So, I guess the one take away here is if you don’t think before you speak, then reflect afterwards… also, FUCK YOU BORIS!