jewin' the fat


Playing Games
January 14, 2010, 3:56 PM
Filed under: Comment | Tags: , , , , ,

It is clear to any fan of a sporting code these days that sport can no longer separate itself from Politics.

It started in the 1930s, during Hitler’s Berlin Games and reared its ugly head again in the 1968, with the Australian 200m Silver medalist Peter Norman deliberately left off the 1972 Athletic squad for his complicity in the pro-African American human rights protest during the national anthems. 11 Israelis were murdered in the Olympic Village in Munich in 1972, the Indian cricket team withdrawal in protest over the British government’s support of the South African Apartheid government, which threatened the integrity of the 1988 Commonwealth Games, six Sierra Leone athletes, who disappeared from the 2006 Commonwealth Games were later granted asylum in Australia. As recently as last week, an Angolan separatist group carried out the deadly ambush on the Togolese national football team at the African Nations Cup, and has vowed to strike again.

And now? An Indian far-right Hindu group, Shiv Sena, have threatened the Australian Cricket team, should they attempt to play in certain parts of India, because of the government’s inability to curb violence against Indian students living in Australia.

What happened to the notion that sport was about skill and grace, that teams meeting on the grassy battlefield of football and rugby, parched dirt of tennis or rapids of the pool transcended border conflicts and community conflict? It seems politics and sport are unescapably intertwined, and have been for decades – often with violent and bloody consequences.

But for a country like Australia, whose people hold sport above everything else, including politics, and for whom sport is the natural expression of their national pride, it is a bitter pill to swallow that something as petty and insignificant in their eyes, should get in the way of a good Indian thumping. On the cricket pitch, of course.

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