Racism and homophobia are destroying sport

k77sujith Roar Guru

By k77sujith, k77sujith is a Roar Guru

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    While sport has the power to unify people from various ethnic backgrounds, it also offers a platform to segregate people on the basis of skin color, looks and certain characteristics.

    This leads me to question whether we have developed a tendency to abuse the glory of this global activity by churning out racist and homophobic comments both on and off the field.

    In 1993 in the Australian Football league, Nicky Winmar, a fine St Kilda player of Aboriginal origin, walked over to rival supporters who were constantly hurling racial slurs at him, lifted his jersey and pointed rebelliously to his skin with his middle finger – a defining moment in Australian sport that sparked immediate action by authorities to eliminate racism.

    But, twenty years on, in spite of constant efforts by the AFL to banish racism from the sport, incidents continue to occur on a regular basis from both inside and outside the boundary line.

    While it’s wonderful for sport that fans go all out to show their support, it’s equally important to also respect the opponent and rival supporters in both victory as well as in defeat.

    A Collingwood fan’s 20-year club membership was terminated by the club after he was spotted racially vilifying Gold Coast player Joel Wilkinson earlier this year. To cite another example that occurred this year on the field, St Kilda’s Steve Milne called Collingwood’s Harry O’ Brien a ‘f****** homo.’ Both of these incidents were totally uncalled for.

    Moving onto the global game, soccer, the Department for Culture Media and Sport committee in England says that while the atmosphere inside British soccer grounds have improved since the 1980s, significant problems continue to persist.

    In the last one year, authorities have had to tackle the issue of racism in two separate incidents, one involving Patrice Evra of Manchester United and Liverpool’s Luis Suarez while the other being Chelsea’s John Terry and Anton Ferdinand of Queens Park Rangers.

    Eventually, the governing bodies such as FIFA and the AFL can’t do much more than constantly instigate campaigns against racism and homophobia; the root cause lies in the mindset, attitudes and mental makeup of society.

    It was half a century ago that American activist Martin Luther King wished his children wouldn’t be judged by the color of their skin but by their personalities. Fast-forward to the present and we are still grappling with the problem.

    How pitiful.

    Ultimately, it boils down to the responsibility of each individual to help eradicate this long-standing concern. No matter who you are or what you stand for, racism and homophobia cannot be tolerated in any form.

    We draw a lot of enjoyment and inspiration from sport so let’s not taint its magnificence and start adopting a much more dignified approach – this goes for people both on and off the field.

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    The Crowd Says (22)

    • September 22nd 2012 @ 12:36am
      Rich_daddy said | September 22nd 2012 @ 12:36am | ! Report

      A little melodramatic don’t you think?

      Yeah sure, there have been some isolated incidences but AFL should be the blueprint to build a strong relationship between indigenous and non indigenous Australians. No guilt, no favouritism, no tokinism. They are truly seen as equals which is the path to take.

      Every AFL club has at least one indigenous player on their list and they are of immense value to their teams. Furthermore they are not treated any differently (positive or negative) because they are indigenous.

      • September 22nd 2012 @ 5:48am
        k77sujith said | September 22nd 2012 @ 5:48am | ! Report

        Hi Rich, apologies for the dramatic element! But on a more serious note, even though what you’ve said makes perfect sense on paper, it’s not something that’s followed by everyone, don’t you think?

      • September 22nd 2012 @ 8:00am
        db swannie said | September 22nd 2012 @ 8:00am | ! Report

        Rich, a blueprint,you are joking.
        The AFL is a long way behind RL when it comes to acceptance of indigenous & gay players.
        Propaganda from AFL house maysay different ,but the reality is when clubs are looking at indigenous players only if they have “One White Parent”then things are far from rosy.
        When a Gay AFL player can come out things will be different.
        But at the moment contrary to what is said by heirarchy the attitudes are stuck in the past,.

        • September 22nd 2012 @ 11:18am
          Timmuh said | September 22nd 2012 @ 11:18am | ! Report

          On the homosexual front, you have a point – many in the community seem to have trouble accepting the idea of a gay player, but there must be some.

          On the indigenous one, not so much. There are still issues in the AFL, just as there are in society including (I suspect) every sport, but quite rare and almost (but not quite) always centred on crowd behaviour and not that of any player or official. And spectators can be banned by club or league for such behaviour.

          • September 22nd 2012 @ 1:01pm
            k77sujith said | September 22nd 2012 @ 1:01pm | ! Report

            Thanks Tim. Seems like there’s not going to be any end to this issue in the near future.

        • September 22nd 2012 @ 1:04pm
          k77sujith said | September 22nd 2012 @ 1:04pm | ! Report

          Hi db. I’m sure you must’ve heard of the country gay footballer Jason Ball who came out of the closet recently. That’s a good start I reckon. As for the AFL, it won’t be long before someone follows suit. Thanks.

    • September 22nd 2012 @ 12:59am
      Johnno said | September 22nd 2012 @ 12:59am | ! Report

      A couragous article k77sujith for many gay man and women , who struggle with there sexuality, and common out of the closet and into the open. A brave article there has been a a lot of homophobia in all football codes, and even basketball a former NBA basketball player came out. Cricket there was a an english player who came out recently steve davies. Wales had a rugby player come out and Ian roberts of course the rugby league star who played for Australia. And at the sydney mardi gras a few years ago one of the Olympic stars Matt mitcham was there discussing homophobia in sport he won a diving gold medal at beijing olympics. Greg louganis of course. There were innuendos about the late cricketer and sports writer form england who died last year forgot his name,.
      And John Fashinau wimbeldon soccer star in the 1980’s his younger bother who also played premier league he died apparent suicide or aids form memory he was gay. ANd martina navratolova an many female basketball and female tennis and female cricket players have come out f the closet and public declared there gay. It takes great courage i can’t imagine the fear these men and women go through. A good article k77sujith thanks.

      • September 22nd 2012 @ 5:49am
        k77sujith said | September 22nd 2012 @ 5:49am | ! Report

        Thanks Johno, as always your comments are insightful and informative.

    • September 22nd 2012 @ 2:27am
      Steve said | September 22nd 2012 @ 2:27am | ! Report

      It’s a decent enough article, but the headline is unhelpful at best.

      • September 22nd 2012 @ 5:52am
        k77sujith said | September 22nd 2012 @ 5:52am | ! Report

        Hi Steve, sorry about the headline but I guess it’s headlines like this that draw attention.

    • September 22nd 2012 @ 7:47am
      Anthony said | September 22nd 2012 @ 7:47am | ! Report

      The homophobia that exists in all sports is – unfortunately – just a reflection of what happens in the community. Young men just repeat what they have heard their fathers or their mates say. So it was with racism in sport & with sexism. And don’t forget ageism (you stupid old…..). I was there at the Nicky Winmar incident & am proud of the AFL stance that went from that. The anti-homophobic ads at the AFL last night & tonight are another initiative to be applauded. The AFL, like other sporting bodies, does not have a responsibility to be an agent for social change – but in their programmes over the last 25 years they reflected changing community attitudes & given a lead to the community. Am not sure about a “Pride Round”, but glad for all the gay players & supporters that something is being done.

      • September 22nd 2012 @ 8:14am
        k77sujith said | September 22nd 2012 @ 8:14am | ! Report

        Hi, you’re right, it all begins at home. The campaigns are good but again, it depends on the attitudes of people. Thanks.

    • September 22nd 2012 @ 7:52am
      AndyMack said | September 22nd 2012 @ 7:52am | ! Report

      hi K77

      not sure if this article really addresses the issue. it is sad though that homophobia and racism is still so rampant in sport. not sure why it is even an issue. its 2012 for crying out loud. surely we are all past it.

      • September 22nd 2012 @ 8:16am
        k77sujith said | September 22nd 2012 @ 8:16am | ! Report

        Hi Andy, thanks for your thoughts. I have intentionally kept it subtle, didn’t want this to turn into a bashing. But I echo your sentiments.

      • September 22nd 2012 @ 8:27am
        Phil said | September 22nd 2012 @ 8:27am | ! Report

        AFL is all about big tall Anglo Australian men with a peppering of small fast indigenous players and the odd big black non indigenous players duking it out on field.

        Australia is a multicultural society, like it or not so where is this reflected on field?

        • September 22nd 2012 @ 10:52am
          k77sujith said | September 22nd 2012 @ 10:52am | ! Report

          You raise a good point Phil, just like how despite being multicultural, there’s hardly any representation of the migrant community in say, the domain of politics as well. I guess the same applies to the AFL as well but having said that, it’s great to see indigenous players doing so well. Thanks.

    • September 22nd 2012 @ 7:57am
      Nafe said | September 22nd 2012 @ 7:57am | ! Report

      As they say the football codes are representative of the community. I think the article is a but sour in note when, in Australian terms you can only pick on 2 instances.

      I think the codes have done a fabulous job, especially on the race issue where it may only come up once every 4 or 5 years. It would be good if it never happened again but someone, somewhere always spoils it.

      In regards to the Homophobic comments, this I think is a little more complicated but is also a much newer focal point. I could be sure in all codes there are at least a handful of gay players who have not told their team mates of their sexual preference. A lot more work is needed before it will be accepted in sport and by the community

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      • September 22nd 2012 @ 8:21am
        k77sujith said | September 22nd 2012 @ 8:21am | ! Report

        Well said Nafe. Yes, homophobic comment is the rage I guess or maybe it’s only now victims are coming forward to let the world know about it. The AFL is doing a great job indeed.. People should start refraining from indulging in all this. Thanks.

        • September 22nd 2012 @ 2:40pm
          clipper said | September 22nd 2012 @ 2:40pm | ! Report

          Hi k77sujith – we could all start by admonishing anyone referring to AFL as ‘gayfl’ – it’s just as insulting as calling soccer ‘wogball’ as both are demeaning to the groups you have mentioned.

          • September 22nd 2012 @ 5:01pm
            k77sujith said | September 22nd 2012 @ 5:01pm | ! Report

            Hi clipper, you’re right but that was never the intention. Apologies if its offended you.

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