Cricket SA needs better strategy to show united stand against racism

Quinton De Kock (PHOTO: Sky News)

ALSO SEE: Quinton de Kock’s full statement and CSA response

Standing against racism is a cause that should unite people of goodwill in this day and age — but it is not so simple when the noble cause of opposing racism is tied to endorsing the controversial Black Lives Matter movement — a point that the Institute of Race Relations makes in a letter to the Board of Cricket South Africa.

The institute warns CSA that its instruction to all players to kneel before matches in support of the Black Lives Matter movement threatens political and religious freedom and sees cricket authorities dabbling with an ideology they do not understand.

It refers CSA to a report by the institute which says the BLM movement exploited public anger at racial discrimination to advance an unrelated political and ideological agenda aimed at undermining the pillars of modern liberal democracies

The Institute of Race Relations is seeking a meeting with Cricket SA to explain its concerns and to seek to have its directive reversed

After the Proteas were told they must take a knee during matches star player Quinton de Kock withdrew from Tuesday’s Twenty20 World Cup match against West Indies, citing “personal reasons” — an action which no doubt would perplex any team members who believe kneeling is simply saying NO to racism.

But there certainly is more to BLM than most media coverage conveys and Christian leaders like ACDP president Rev Kenneth Meshoe and Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, Catholic archbishop of Durban are among those who have previously spoken out against BLM for its anti-Christian and anti-family ideology.

Cric info reports that South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA) would like the national men’s team to take a uniform approach to taking a knee but has criticised Cricket South Africa for mandating it, and for doing so during a global tournament.

Speaking at the Social Justice and Nation-Building hearings, SACA CEO Andrew Breetzke said CSA has caused a “crisis” in the national team after De Kock sat out Tuesday’s match in protest of the mandate..

ACDP MP Marie Sukers said in a statement that Section 15 (1) or the Constitution says “everyone has the right to freedom, conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion”. Therefore the ACDP rejects CSA’s decision to force players “to kneel or perform any action that is not their own”.

“I am a black woman but will not kneel in solidarity against racism. The ACDP views collaboration and co-belligerency as vital to democracy. However, for me, along with millions of other Christians, the act of kneeling risks surrendering to the imperious politics of the BLM movement whose belief system runs counter to core Christian values,” she says in a media statement.

Commenting on the matter, author, speaker and media personality and Gateway News columnist Afrika Mhlophe writes:

Grandstanding and political posturing are two terms that come to mind when considering Cricket South Africa’s decision to compel its players to take a knee in support of Black Lives Matter movement. I know that the stated reasons are related to showing solidarity against racial discrimination. But taking a knee before major sporting duels has never ended racism. 

Nowhere is this more evident than in American itself. The country, which has given the world this symbolic gesture, is more polarised today than ever before. 

Gestures are as good as the people behind them. And as I pointed out in a previous piece, the BLM movement has morphed into something that is antithetical to the wellbeing of the very people its purports to fight for. Otherwise, how do you explain their skirting around significant issues affecting black people? For instance, fatherlessness and the fact that hundreds of black men die as victims of black-on-black crime.

Following the killing of George Floyd, BLM popularised a slogan to “defund the police.” Some American states adopted this slogan only to see homicides and other forms of violent crimes rising sharply. Many of the same cities are restoring money to their police departments or proposing to spend more.

In its own defence, CSA issued a statement following Quinton de Kock’s decision not to make himself available for today’s game between the Proteas and West Indies.  

After considering all relevant issues, including the freedom of choice of players, the board has made it clear that it was imperative for the team to be seen taking a stand against racism, especially given SA’s history. The board’s view was that while diversity can and should find expression in many facets of daily lives, this did not apply when it came to taking a stand against racism.”

The Proteas won the match by eight wickets but it was the controversy surrounding de Kock that dominated the press conference that followed afterwards. According to news24, Proteas captain Temba Bavuma acknowledged that the issue of taking a knee was complex. 

“I don’t think it’s just as simple as taking a knee. We have to appreciate that we live in a country like South Africa that has its own past that is diverse in its views, backgrounds and in the way people see things,” he said.

Why then does CSA put their players in such an ideological melee? Surely cricket players are not politicians and they cannot risk engaging in an activity than widens the gap among South Africans. 

Here we are dealing with two totally different propositions. Taking a stand against racism, which everyone should become part of and using a gesture associated with an organisation that is a front for issues unrelated to racism. 

By taking such a hard stance, the CSA board is using its players to atone for its failure to uproot racism in its ranks. Public perception weighs heavier in its mind than the wellbeing of players. This explains their refusal to allow for conscientious objection.  

As a Christian I know that a person’s reluctance to take a knee says very little about their commitment to non-racialism as it does about their faith. The gesture also does not absolve anyone of racial bias or antipathy. Its value is limited to public perception. It is good for optics. 

However, my main concern is a utilitarian approach where individual rights are subordinated to what is deemed to be the “greater good.” This is something we are also seeing with the vaccine mandates – a topic for another day. 

One Comment

  1. Well articulated Afrika and Temba. Respect is earned. Creating an element of force, even if it makes the issue visible to the viewer, is not the way to go. BLM has been a very divisive movement. As Christians we should be seen supporting one another. Race is meaningless in the Eyes of GOD, if we show obedience and Agape Love towards each other. Heaven will reveal the presence of people from throughout the world who love and accept the sacrifice JESUS made for all who come to know Him. GOD observes the heart of man. HE is a Living Being, and as Creator requires a Living faith. This is not about “religion” or “politics”.