Let me start this blog out by saying, I hate racism. It’s the most ignorant, stupid creations that mankind has ever devised. It’s up there with nuclear bombs. Both are powerfully destructive, and detrimental to the progression of humanity.
Trust me, I know what I’m talking about. I could write a dissertation on the subject. Throughout my life I have witnessed this ugly trait of human nature, and I have been subjected to racism since I was born. With decades of first-hand experience, it’s safe to say I know a lot about this subject.
So, where are we going with this latest racism row? Recently it has been reported that fans in at a cricket match booed Moeen Ali because of his religion. I wasn’t there, but is the hostility of the crowd down to racism? Wasim Khan, the Chief Executive of the Cricket Foundation Charity and the first British-born Muslim to play professional cricket in England, believes it’s not. He stated that the booing was due to the complex nature of the relationship between India and Pakistan, rather than any anti-Islamic sentiment. He goes on to state that Mohammed Shami plays for India and he is a Muslim and other Muslims have played for them too. He suspects that the hostility of the crowd was likely about national heritage rather than religion. I don’t excuse the behaviour regardless of the motive, but my question is – is it ever OK to boo or express hostile feelings at a professional match?
Let’s delve into the madness. What is racist? It’s a complex and multi-faceted issue that the sporting industry still needs to confront on many levels. The Boards, Leagues, Associations and Faculties are all theoretically opposed to racism. But if you actually look at these organisations – the people in power, the people who make the decisions – it tells another story.
You only have to look at the Premier League. With so many Black players in the leagues, it is astounding that there is only one Black manager in the top four leagues. These organisations are not fairly representing the masses of our population. And this lack of equality perpetuates old-fashioned attitudes about race. If we don’t see any faces of minorities in power, coaching, managing, at the press conferences, then there will never be any respect. This is what you call ‘Institutional Racism’ and this is where the real problem lies.
But back to the issue of booing (when to boo, who to boo, and by the way… can I boo?) Booing is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to racism within sport. Hostility towards players is merely a response to the institutional racism that is so ingrained into a lot of sporting culture. The issue that needs to be tackled is the diversification of the bodies at the top.
But until that happens, tackling booing is a good place to start. So this weekend, instead of booing I will be cheering at everything and let’s see if I am accused of something. Maybe I will be accused of being happy, and, as one of my Professors once told me, ‘don’t ±%§+ with happy.’