The Rio Games 2016 Highlighted the Absurdity of Racial Quotas in Sport

2016-09-06 18:46

I made a point of watching the Rio Olympic Games’ men’s and women’s 100 metre finals (athletics) – I wanted to see the fastest man, and the fastest woman, in the World!

Being a South African and being continually exposed to RACIAL ISSUES, through B-BBEE scorecards, sports and university race-based quotas etc, it immediately struck me that the racial composition of these two events was skewed very much in favour of Black representation – that’s because only one, of the sixteen competitors in these two races, was White.

This is not a racist comment, it's a fact!

I then considered the Games’ swimming events.

These events, on the other hand, were skewed very much in favour of White representation.

In fact, apart from Simone Manuel (the first US Black swimmer to win an Olympic medal), Black participation in the swimming events, was virtually non-existent.

These are not racist comments, these are facts!

One can extend these observations beyond the Rio Games.

For example, in the US, Blacks, or ”African-Americans” (the term used in the US), dominate in:

- Basketball (in 2015, some 74% of registered NBA players were African-Americans);

- American football (in 2014 some 68% of registered NFL players were African-Americans); and

- Track and field athletics (although I don’t have stat’s on this)

and yet African-Americans are a minority group in the US ie they represent only 13% of the US population.

These are not racist comments, these are facts!

The point that I want to make is that, in the US, nobody cares what the racial mix of sporting teams is – and that’s the way it should be in a society that holds itself out as being NON-RACIAL!

Applying current South African “racial thinking” to the above observation, the IOC/NBA/NFL may want to consider establishing racial quotas to level these distortions out.

Mention this to these organisations and it would no doubt be laughed off as a bad joke!!

However, we in South Africa have no such problem with racial quotas – the latest being Cricket South Africa (CSA) which recently agreed to racial quotas in the selection of the national cricket team – ie six players of colour in the starting XI, with two of these having to be what are referred to as “Black Africans”.

In fact, CSA already insists that each team, competing in its domestic franchise competitions, must comprise at least six players of colour.

In a similar vein our Springbok Rugby Coach, Allister Coetzee, has been told that half of the Springbok 2019 Rugby World Cup Squad must be players of colour!

I’m certain that sports quotas, as with racial quotas in business, are very destructive/counter-productive.

I say this because sports quotas can:

- make sportsmen/women feel that they are simply “political pawns” in a high-stakes political game;

- “cheapen” genuine achievement;

- confuse some of those selected as to whether they’re merit, or “quota”, selections;

- no doubt create inter-personal tensions within squads/teams (although I doubt that the squad/team members would admit to that); and

- have an adverse effect on team morale.

Why can’t we become a nation that recognises and rewards excellence, regardless of the race of a person? After all, aren’t we now supposed to be in a non-racial democracy?

I’m a White and I personally have no problem if the Proteas Cricket Team and/or the Springbok Rugby Team are comprised totally of Black players – as long as they’re our best players!

We, the Whites and Blacks of South Africa, are all South Africans – racial discrimination should be consigned to the “rubbish heap of history”.

Let’s build a winning nation – in sport and in business, etc – TOGETHER!!

If we can’t do that, we are destined to fail as a nation!

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