Why Are Black Sports Officials Silent About Inequalities In South African Sport? By Cheryl Roberts

14 Nov

Why Have Black Leaders Succumbed To Trappings Of Elite Sport?

Which black official in sport is vocal about inequalities in South African sport? Which black official/leader is challenging racial and wealth privilege in society and in sport? Which black sports official still speaks about the sites of struggle and interconnectedness of sport and society? I struggle to be aware of any such black official! But we can see which black officials have been around in sport for years, hogging international travel and positions., several of them getting lucrative bonuses.

 In our society of social inequalities, gender discrimination, racial privilege and white control, class domination, despite living in a democratic, post-apartheid oppression era, deficiencies, injustices, wrongs and inequalities must be challenged and called out across society.

The post-apartheid journey was only made ‘comfortable’ with the removal of legal unjust laws and discrimination but all inherited inequalities are very much existing and controlling interaction of society. Sport, too is a reflection of our unequal society.

Yet, despite coming from oppressed lives in apartheid South Africa, having to fight for dignity and against discrimination based on skin colour, class and gender, black sports officials in democratic-era South Africa have seemingly lost their activist and human rights voices, gone quiet and become remarkably accepting of a sports system that favours elite, wealthy and corporate sport.

There are plentiful black officials occupying positions in South African sport, from the Minister of Sport to the SASCOC President and leaders and national officials of national sports federations, particularly of corporate sports such as cricket, rugby and football.

But these black officials exhibit no social justice activism about their present involvement in sport. South African sport exists in a society of discrimination and domination, of  wealth gaps and racial discrimination and represents a society of class inequalities, class and racial privilege and gender control.

These social inequalities are very much reflected in sports structures and impact on the organisation of sport from grassroots to international representation and participation. Except for some talk and mention here and there, now and then, these inequalities, imbalances, privileges and class controls are rarely confronted and challenged. Instead, they are swept off agendas of meetings, rarely getting a mention when officialdom meets to discuss sport.

Why are you black official in sport afraid to speak out and challenge and disrupt elite control of sport when you didn’t fear apartheid’s security and repressive apparatus and you spoke out against oppression and discrimination? You have the examples of the finest principled anti-apartheid sports leaders to guide you but you, black sports official, have given up and accepted inequalities, privilege and elite control to thrive in the South African  sports network.

Nowadays sport officialdom, especially corporate backed sport has been taken over by officialdom consumed by power and money. International travel, occupying entertainment spaces in VIP suites, getting bonuses and some power here and there are what dictates a sport official’s involvement in sport.

Which black official in sport is vocal about inequalities in South African sport? Which black official/leader is challenging racial and wealth privilege in society and in sport? Which black sports official still speaks about the sites of struggle and interconnectedness of sport and society? I struggle to be aware of any such black official! But we can see which black officials have been around in sport for years, hogging international travel and positions., several of them getting lucrative bonuses.

I’m calling out black officials and leaders in sport because just the other day they were oppressed by the apartheid regime because of their skin colour. Now why have you gone quiet when you see society’s inequalities staring at you, when you know grassroots sport is supported by volunteers in working class communities, that suburban schools benefit mostly white and a minority black elite grouping of children and youth, that racial privilege benefits white people in most sports in South Africa?

Why are you so accepting of elite and wealthy control of sport in South Africa when you fought against and challenged minority power and domination? Why do you allow corporates to control sport for the benefit of profits and exposure for their business? Why have you allowed your being and involvement in sport to be captured by all the elite trappings and invitations of elite sports lifestyles, bonuses and acceptance of elite domination?

Why are you black official in sport afraid to speak out and challenge and disrupt elite control of sport when you didn’t fear apartheid’s security and repressive apparatus and you spoke out against oppression and discrimination? You have the examples of the finest principled anti-apa

8cheryl roberts  in the rain forest in ghana

Cheryl Roberts (writer of the blog)

rtheid sports leaders to guide you but you, black sports official, have given up and accepted inequalities, privilege and elite control to thrive in the South African  sports network.

You can’t say that politics must be out of sport when politics is very much in sport, all around sport and outside of sport. Sport is political. Involvement and participation in sport is political. Sport is not only about elite participation, winning global titles and medals, as much of sports officialdom would like us to believe, consume and propagate. It’s about how society’s class control, racial privilege, gender discrimination, wealth gaps impact on and affect participation and organisation of sport.

Several sports in South Africa are controlled by white privilege and reinforce whiteness. But black officials, especially allow this to prevail. Male hegemony of sport is powerful, keeps men in power in the interests of sport, yet black sports officials don’t contest and challenge this male control. Black women get a raw deal, struggle much more than white women in sport and white sportswomen but black officials don’t speak out.

Why have black officials in sport gone silent when social, class and gender inequalities, racial privilege are profound and emphatic? Have the black leaders/officials been bought over, captured by elite trappings and wealth in sport?

 

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