Racism in Cricket
It is an interesting fact that what we read in the media in some way shapes us. Our views are largely formed by the views of the media and how they present the information to us. For a long time I have sat by and listened to the uproar that the media creates every time a person is called a name pertaining to their race on a sports field. Straight away we all jump on it as racist and condemn the individual, electronically throwing rocks at them and herding them into a corner, when a response comes back from them that they aren’t racist, it is like they have had to pop out of the cover of their hands to say it and immediately everyone starts pelting at them again. For me comments on the pitch amount to no more than name calling…It is interesting that we were all taught to cope with name calling as children. The popular rhyme “sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me” still rings true in my ears today…I can almost hear my mother and father reciting it to me every time I complained about it… It has taken the best part of 2 decades for people to start differentiating between match fixing, spot fixing and throwing games of cricket. To me there is a huge moral difference between being paid to give information about how we think a pitch will perform and that of the person who wittingly underperforms to ensure his team loses. Yes neither is correct and both are punishable offences but they are vastly different in my mind. Another good example of this is the recent Oscar Pistorious case….I heard people from all over the world saying “He did it, he did it” well that was never in doubt and the trial was to determine simply wether he did it on purpose or not. The fact there is a difference between firing your gun and killing your girlfriend on purpose, and albeit a lesser crime to shoot at a door with reckless abandon and in the process killing your girlfriend was lost on a vast majority of people…. So here we have 2 examples of people grouped together and branded guilty before, and in some cases after trial despite being proven otherwise. Why and how did we get to such a place in time that we are either too lazy or too nasty to try to separate the 2.
So why have I gone into such detail to show the difference in morality between 2 similar crimes? I recently saw that Andrew Gale (The Yorkshire Captain) was slammed for being ‘racist’ after he called Ashwell Prince “a Kolpak player”… Now let me get this straight, firstly I don't know Andrew Gale and am in no way qualified to tell you that he isn’t a racist, but I am also telling you that no one is qualified to call this man a racist based on this on field sledge. It is simply name calling….. History is littered with horrific stories of racism, the slave period, Hitler’s Ethnic cleansing the Klu Klux Klan, the list can go on and on…. this is racism! Racism stretches to the workplace in the form of racial discrimination….for all of the above there is a direct and tangible outcome of racism, you lose your life by being ethnically cleansed, you lose your freedom by being someone’s slave, you miss out on work opportunities when a job is given to someone ahead of you based on their ethnicity! There is no tangible outcome of being called something that you are? If you are called black, white, Asian, Muslim etc it is simply name calling, nothing happens you don't die, you don't lose your freedom!!! To categorize it in the same hemisphere is ridiculous!! Now I can hear people jumping up and down trying to throw the argument at me that I don't know what it is like to be racially abused, please think again. I would go as far as to say I have suffered more than most. I was born in Australia and played for England and my complexion is from my Indonesian Ancestory. When I played for England I was called a traitor, turncoat and Judas, at my school in Ballarat I was in fights daily….did this hurt my feelings yes, did I wake up the next day with the same opportunity as the other kids, yes…Whilst there were times I didn't like it, it was no different to the times I was abused about my appearance or what I wore, or what music I liked….Its all name calling, there is nothing tangible about it…. I am not saying it should be allowed, (that's a whole different topic) but I don't think people who call people names should immediately be branded racists. Please don't think black people have the trademark on racism, many have suffered in generations before us and will continue to do so… It is so often semi intelligent white people who have never suffered racism who want to acknowledge there so called understanding of racism by mimicking that which they hear in the media. I think Andrew Gale’s comments are simply more likely due to a lack of something better to come back with, or a heat of the moment comment that hasn't been thought out clearly. I’m sure if he had something better to say at the time then he would’ve, but in the cricket world it is unacceptable in some situations to not defend yourself….If some one tells you as the spiritual leader and figure head of your team to fuck off back to cover I don't know many people who wouldn't have replied in an aggressive manner, I would love to say that I would’ve been witty enough to reply with something hilarious that is to be repeated as an after dinner anecdotes, but rarely do these amazing replies fall into our mind at the exact time and sadly as in life we are left with the “I wish I had thought of that at the time” I understand it is easy for everyone to label Andrew Gale a racist but I am willing to wager that as the captain of Yorkshire he is very unlikely a racist! To hold such a respected position would take years of people analysing your personality and ability to lead a side that includes non-white players. Labelling him a racist is unfair and I feel satisfies people desire to prove that they are not racist and to air their political view. You need look no further than Facebook or twitter to find millions of people just wanting to be listened to and telling everybody how good a person they are.
Any opportunity, any platform that is provided they will take it…. I think it is important that the game polices itself somewhat and I think that Andrew Gales comment should be met with a frown from within the cricketing community…. I don't think that his comment defines him and should I look up Google the first thing that pops up is that he has been suspended for a racist comment. I remember Surrey were a side hated by the rest of the country and to be honest we bought that upon ourselves by poor and distasteful behavior, we where often reminded of this by our piers and ultimately it led to us wishing to change our image…. In a nutshell I think it is part of our next phase of enlightenment as human beings to be able to differentiate and not pigeon hole people. Probably the biggest challenge that faces us all today is the ISIS issue and the potential for back lash against honest and peaceful Muslims. There was a time when women who practiced medicine were called witches and the men devil worshipers, then we became enlightened. I feel now is the time more than ever for us to try to understand that we are all different, we can say things we regret in the heat of the moment and we should be able to be confident that we aren’t going to be thrown into a category with people who killed ethnic minorities based on their skin or religion. We are intelligent enough to come up with more than one name for racism and its varying degrees? I want to reiterate that I am by no means saying that it is OK to call people names, but it needs to be put into perspective and given a title…. The courts of law that rule over us appear to be part the way there with the difference between premeditated murder, murder and manslaughter all carrying different punishments. The news papers could do with trying to be more responsible with their reporting of both this Andrew Gale case and to a greater extent the current Muslim issues. If we cant do this I can almost guarantee we are heading for troubled times ahead.