Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Friday, 21 January 2022

Is this acceptable?

I had a little breakthrough the other day, I went and watched a rugby match at my old club, and I really enjoyed the game. It must be the best part of 20 years since I last went and watched them, it's been on my to do list for a few years but events always seemed to conspire to prevent it. Now I've broken my duck I will be going back, in a couple of weeks they have another league match so I'll go up for that, and maybe see some old friends (and by now they will be old!)

Kyle Sinkler, England Prop
Thinking of rugby it tends to be the major point of discussion when I meet up with my Brother, we both played for the same school, club and often team, so there's a lot of common ground there. A few weeks ago we were musing around historic racist comments by high profile sports people, and looked back on our own past. When I first left school and joined the club I think we only had one black member, he was a good player and seemed to enjoy the "Banter" of an all male beery club environment, we all knew him by a racist nickname, and used it, to his face. I am quite sure that much of the "banter" was of a racist nature as well. As we thought about this we agreed that we were both sorry that we behaved in this way, we agreed that we definitely would not now, we agreed that we would not have and still do not perceive ourselves as racists, yet we had behaved in a racist manner. Should we be punished or called out for our behaviour 45 years ago? 

Maro Itoji
Just a few years after this, the same club, the same people, but we now had five or six black members, and the times had shifted, it no longer occurred to anyone that the sort of behaviour that was normal in the 70s would be acceptable in the 80s, which begs the question, why do some leading sports people still think that this might be acceptable in the 21st century?

I suppose that because it doesn't impact on my life I tend not to think much about racism, I probably think more about transphobia and misogyny, yet racism is still an evil that penetrates all aspects of life, Sophia has just written about racism amongst trans activists. I know of racism in the world of brass bands and orchestras. I recently listened to an excellent documentary on BBC Radio 4 about racism in Yorkshire County Cricket Club. We hear about racism in football, in tennis and I'm sure it is endemic in other sports as well.

Courtney Lawes
Sport is a reflection of the society we live in, which makes me think that so must be the racism, does it pervade every aspect of society? is it worse than it was? or are we now more aware and less tolerant of prejudice?

Certainly overt racism is no longer socially acceptable the way it was in the 60s and 70s, I no longer see racist comedy on the television, I see people of colour in positions of authority, in politics, in the media, actors and sports people, yet I still hear about use of racist slurs, casual racism as well as the sheer hate of the "other" as exemplified by the far right white supremacists. But is that a reflection of how people think or just of what they say. We still have the far right, they shout loud, but who are they speaking for, what sort of a following do they have? Just how big a problem is this?

More questions than answers I'm afraid.

I've used photos of three of England's finest rugby players of colour partly because they are all easy on the eye, partly because they are excellent examples to young men growing up, and party because the six nations is coming up and I will be writing about it soon!

1 comment:

Connie said...

I don't know a whole lot about Rugby, other than I know it's rough. I didn't know that even just watching it was so dangerous, though. Anyway, I hope your duck heals nicely. :)