Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Rugby and racism

Scotty Stevenson in The Herald aligns the racial abuse hurled at Fijian rugby players in Canterbury with a more subtle, but equally corrosive, racial stereotyping that imbues the sport at elite levels. 

He cites the All Blacks' official biographies which present white players in terms of their intelligence and leadership skills, and players of colour in terms of their physicality.

Sideline racial abuse is as crude as it is ugly and says most (all of it bad) about the people who deliver it but it only happens because (white) match officials, club organisers, spectators and other players allow it to happen.

Morons will be morons, haters will hate - it's up to the majority of decent people to control those who can't or won't control themselves. 

It’s a white problem and as such white people have to provide the solution. Messages of support from other players after the game are not enough and it is wrong to expect people of colour to take the lead in challenging drunken bigots.

White spectators need to challenge abusers at the time.  White match officials need to stop the game the moment they become aware that spectators are hurling racial abuse and white players on both teams need to refuse to play until racial abusers leave. White club officials need to revoke racial abusers' membership and ban them from attending matches.

If this happened, the sideline racial abuse would stop dead. 

Canterbury and NZ Rugby as institutions need to acknowledge the MASSIVE contribution to the game made by players of colour and take their own steps to stop racial abuse - and they need to address the more subtle racial stereotyping which helps fuel it. 

I'd like to see Canterbury’s elite white rugby players, with their much vaunted leadership skills and intelligence,  stand up and demonstrate those qualities by publicly condemning racism in the sport.

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