Fascinating, well at least for me, is what is happening stateside with the #takeaknee protest. Old pumpkinhead blunders in with his oh so obvious racist and increasingly fascist bollocks and will hopefully stir up those who maybe don’t think a great deal about politics within the sports fraternity to think.
I was brought up in a very sporty household, much of my time was taken up with playing both organised and more freeform sporty stuff. I loved arunning and akicking and astriking, I was a perpetul motion machine. But, I’m afraid, sport is certainly not a simple, apolitical affair. I had an early inkling of this when as an elfin eleven year old I played in a soccer game on Wrotham village’s recreational field. I played for a team composed of those of us who lived on farms, hamlets and small villages around the larger metropolis that was Wrotham who provided the opposition. I remember little of the game but much of the aftermath. We won and as soon as the game ended we were surrounded by the players, parents and other adults associated with the Wrotham team making all sorts of verbal accusations and threats. Our team created a new local record for car cramming as the whole team got into my dad’s car and drove slowly away still surrounded by the baying mob.
It was a scary experience. Over the years I realised that it wasn’t just the accusations that one of our players being a larger than average 11 year old was ‘overage’ and the difficulty of accepting losing but a deeper representation of identity and class politics. We were the ‘outsiders’, we represented (some irony for me here!) the ‘landed gentry’, we had some going to grammar school like myself whilst the Wrotham team were all? going to the local secondary modern. My first lesson in how political sport is.
It’s been this way for millenia as I copy this example from a recent Grauniad piece: “Sparta’s loan of three-time Olympic champion Chionis in 630 BC helped put the city of Cyrene on the map.” And now pumpkinhead wades in, claiming his comments are not about race and the like as he tries to stir his racist white base against the uppity blacks who dare to protest about endemic racism. So far the response of sports folk in America has been unaminous and admirable, calling out the ignorant buffoon for what he is.
Anyway, ‘takingaknee’ during the national anthem is way more patriotic than avoiding the draft 5 times. Although it could be argued that he heroically avoided capture by the vietcong by staying at home.
Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.