When Sports and Politics Meet

Nelson Mandella

It has been 15 years since sports politics landed the Springboks the Ellis We Trophy, the World Cup of Rugby under the most difficult of circumstances. South Africa has just emerged from the shadows of Apartheid. Nelson Mandela was just elected the country’s first ever black President by the black majority population. But the team that represented the Springboks in the 1995 World Cup was still made up of all white players except for a certain Chester William. Sports politics was the last thing on anyone’s minds

Amidst all the reforms and positive outlook in a post-Apartheid era, the tension in South Africa between the white Afrikaner ex-ruling class and the majority black population still sizzle beneath an apparent state of reform and positive outlook. All that changed when the underdog Springboks, against all odds and expectations defeated the overwhelming favourites, New Zealand. In a miraculous stroke, Nelson Mandela has conjured up not just a World Cup win, but began a healing process of change within a violence-ravaged nation so staved of peace and harmony for centuries. It proved that there is a part for sports to play in the complex world of political differences, strive and struggles in our modern societies. This kind of sports politics has a lot of potential for us to explore.

There are those that argue that sports and politics do not mix. Although there are times when politics certainly gets involved in making laws. Take for example the recent law change that will see UK Bingo Sites paying taxes on their free give aways. Sites like http://www.boomtownbingo.com ┬ámay struggle to adjust with this change of law. They claim that there is no such thing as sports politics. They claim that both are of different character and extremes. The former is gentlemanly, passionate and non-violent. While the latter is unpredictable, uncalled for, and often expressed in the violent forms of war, racism, riots and unrest. We cannot deny such traits of sports and politics. But if we look deeper at sports and politics, both are essentially battles of a different kind. As George Orwell once said, “sport is basically war minus the shooting”.

If only mankind can resolve their differences by sports politics on the football field rather than the battle field. If only, Hitler tries to prove his racial supremacy in sports field rather than in the death camps of Auschwitz. If only, the soldiers of this world are more eager to don their jerseys than their combat gear. If only politicians can let a game decide the fate of nations, rather than mobilise for war. Life on earth would be more meaningful, harmonious and peaceful with sports politics. People can than go about their tasks without fear of their race, colour, religions or birth rights. Yes, there is room for us humans to evoke this spirit of sports politics to solve our world’s problems.

It might seem trivial and silly. Why not let our children and future generations answer this question: “Would you rather prepare hard and ultimately lose on the sports field, or train hard and die on a battlefield?” This rhetoric question begs no answers. We all know the right answer and the right thing to do. But why are we so eager still to bear arms and risk death. I believe that in this modern world of weapons of mass destruction, we should seriously consider using other means like sports politics to resolve our differences and build a better world. If we don’t and continue to resort to war and violence, there will be not much of a place for us to call home.