If I bungle my argument along the way, please excuse me, I’m actually fairly vexed as I write this:
I’ve just had my third debate about rugby being “left alone” in recent days. Just as we had anticipated, South Africa returned with the World Cup in hand and the politics came following after. The issue of transformation has been raised on countless occasions on this site alone; it’s back in the public eye with force and some people, clearly irked, have called for the matter to be dropped altogether.
So I’m going to drop it and leave transformation alone … if we can all just agree to leave rugby alone. “Let the Afrikaners have their game” (as I’ve been told) — fair enough. I will not contend that the cultural “air” of a sport does not affect the player demographics. Look at basketball in the US, where the country’s majority is white but most of the professional players are black or, rather, African-American.
But if we’re going to argue this, then rugby’s position in South Africa should be re-thought. I’m flabbergasted by those who have claimed the victory in France as a victory for our nation, a victory for national pride, and in the same breath have contended that the demographic representation in the sport is fine as it is.
Rugby, if media representation and sponsorships are anything to go by, is our national sport. It is the only sport I can think of where there is dedicated coverage to it when played even at a school level. I’m pretty sure it’s the “richest” sport in our country. If people can’t understand why the call for transformation in rugby is so fevered, we need to pick another activity (if forced to choose one) on which to peg some kind of “national identity”.
I propose running. It is the most accessible sport in the world. There is almost no specialised equipment needed, hence no hampering participation. There is plenty of road in the country. Everyone runs; there are more runners in this country than there are rugby players. Hey, if it received the same coverage as rugby has enjoyed, we’d find that this sport is already fully transformed.
Who’s with me?
Probably very few, but I’m writing this little post semi-facetiously. Point being that transformation needs to take place and we cannot “nag” on this issue enough until change is seen. Either that or, seriously, we need to make a concerted effort to marginalise the game’s position in our national consciousness.