‘Brown dog go home’ echoed at the Sydney Cricket Ground as Indian pacer Mohammed Siraj walked over from the boundary line on the first day of the third test in the Border-Gavaskar trophy. Siraj went up to Indian skipper Ajinkya Rahane and complained about the constant abuse he was being subjected to, resulting in a 10 minute halt as the policemen ejected six people from the stadium. What followed was an official complaint by Team India to the ICC about the racial abuse Siraj and Bumrah received which begged the bigger question of what needs to be done to eliminate racism from sports altogether. Racism is not a sports issue, but a societal one. The Black Lives Matter movement gained worldwide attention after the death of George Floyd on May 25th, 2020, leading to the world of sports taking the knee to show silent solidarity in support of human rights. The action itself dates back to the civil rights movement where Martin Luther King Jr along with other activists kneeled after leading a prayer for a group of protesters arrested during a march on February 1, 1965. Since then, taking the knee came to the forefront around the world when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick silently protested against racism and police brutality by taking the knee as the National Anthem played before a game. The immediate reaction to Kaepernick’s actions led to widespread criticism in the United States which ultimately led to him being released by the team in 2016, with no other team willing to take him. It all changed when in light of the George Floyd incident, the NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued an indirect apology on June 20th admitting they were wrong and expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Since the Floyd incident, many athletes around the world have followed suit by taking the knee and have publicly expressed their support to eliminate racism not just from sport but society. In the Premier League, players names were replaced by ‘Black Lives Matter’ for the first 12 matches of the season once it restarted after the halt due to the pandemic. The movement itself has unified different sports, cultures and languages in the common belief that there is no room for racism and to show silent solidarity for human rights. Athletes have always been leaders and influencers, and sports has given them a platform to express the social injustices around the world. Sporting organisations around the world such as NASCAR have banned the confederate flag (a symbol of white supremacy) and have allowed racers to take the knee. FIFA and the International Cricket Council have followed suit, recognising that racism in sports is just an underlying reflection of the issues in our society. It will be interesting to see if the Olympics, that have+ been historically against protests of any form, will accept athletes taking the knee in Tokyo. Written by Saad Rashid, Sports Enthusiast. The opinions and views expressed in the blog are strictly personal opinion of the author.
Kick it out! Sports has no place for racism in 2021
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