Swim­ming in the trans­for­ma­tion mael­strom

CityPress - - Sport - Stu­art Long­bot­tom @Long­bot­tom_69 is an arm­chair cricket critic. He thinks Kallis, in his re­tire­ment, should stick to pro­mot­ing hair-loss cures

n a week when Sports Min­is­ter Fik­ile Mbalula clamped down on four of South Africa’s sports fed­er­a­tions – the SA Rugby Union, Cricket SA (CSA), Ath­let­ics SA and Net­ball SA – for their fail­ure to en­force gov­ern­ment’s trans­for­ma­tion agenda, there has been much hot air blow­ing from the di­rec­tion of the crick­et­ing quar­ter.

Soon af­ter his an­nounce­ment – dubbed a “political storm” by some for­eign me­dia out­lets – leg­endary Proteas all-rounder Jac­ques Kallis en­tered the fray with a tweet that could taint his oth­er­wise ster­ling rep­u­ta­tion. “So sad that i [sic] find my­self em­bar­rassed to call my­self a South African so of­ten these days #no place for pol­i­tics in sport,” he wrote on the mi­croblog­ging site to a flurry of re­ac­tions from others, who pointed out the ob­vi­ous de­fi­cien­cies in his rea­son­ing.

As a side note, I al­ways find it odd that Twit­ter users are more con­cerned with call­ing out pop­u­lar fig­ures for their stances on is­sues rather than point­ing out the ob­vi­ous – that, in most cases, their English gram­mar leaves much to be de­sired and says a lot about how they think (or per­haps do not think) about the world around them.

Mean­while, later on Mon­day evening, com­fort­able in his re­tire­ment from a more or less medi­ocre crick­et­ing ca­reer, from his cosy cot­tage on KwaZulu-Natal’s south coast, Pat Sym­cox (re­mem­ber him?) tweeted: “I’m won­der­ing how swim­ming and golf es­caped the sports ban…” Now even though that 61-char­ac­ter jab may pass gram­mat­i­cally, I found it dis­con­cert­ing, con­sid­er­ing that the is­sue of trans­for­ma­tion in South African sports cuts to the core of the big­gest chal­lenge fac­ing our so­ci­ety.

The pre­vi­ous political dis­pen­sa­tion cre­ated and nor­malised a world where priv­i­lege (in­deed, the priv­i­lege to swim and play golf ) was de­ter­mined purely by skin colour. If Kallis or Sym­cox cast their minds back just 20 years, they would do well to re­mem­ber that they found them­selves in the pound seats when it came to be­ing given op­por­tu­ni­ties to show­case their tal­ents – op­por­tu­ni­ties that were po­lit­i­cally af­forded.

So for Kallis, as a di­rect ben­e­fi­ciary of racist political med­dling in sports, to think that more egal­i­tar­ian pol­i­tics have no place in sports, re­flects his lack of depth in think­ing. And by men­tion­ing the sport­ing sym­bols of priv­i­lege – im­ply­ing that ma­jor sports such as cricket, rugby and ath­let­ics should be over­looked in the trans­for­ma­tion agenda – Sym­cox triv­i­alised the is­sue in a snide and un­der­handed way (this be­came ob­vi­ous from re­sponses he re­ceived to that tweet from some of his braindead fol­low­ers. Birds of a feather, I sup­pose).

Which­ever way priv­i­lege seeks to judge Mbalula, the fact is that these four fed­er­a­tions are sig­na­to­ries to the Trans­for­ma­tion Char­ter for SA Sport. This binds them to what­ever mea­sures are needed to ad­dress trans­for­ma­tion and seek re­dress for the hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions of the past. The only con­so­la­tion for the CSA, if there ever is one when it comes to racism, is that it fell just 5% short of its quota for the se­nior men’s team. Hope­fully, by next year it will re­alise the po­ten­tial of mean­ing­ful trans­for­ma­tion.

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