Levelling inequality in sport
Levelling inequality in sport
A lack of collective leadership from the global sports community reflects the disjointed and self-serving attitudes that have long affected the international sport world.
They say that coronavirus, like sport, is a great leveller. Race, rank, religion, finance status, etc. do not matter in the face of the virus, and sport often touts that the moment you step on a pitch or track or court, these do not make a difference, either. It’s funny, isn’t it… sport and a pandemic sharing this so-called impartiality.
Yet, in both cases, while they may seem to demonstrate equal opportunity, this is not the case. The poor and the marginalised will continue to be the most at risk during the virus, and they will also continue to be the ones who are left behind in sport. Access, whether to healthcare or to sports facilities, is limited, and only if there are changes made can the huge global disparities begin to be eradicated.
Though it should not take a global crisis for us to assess and evaluate, and reassess and reevaluate, our values, our passions and our beliefs, the current pandemic has spurred thought in the minds of even the most thoughtless. Sport must change. This was true before coronavirus and will still be true well after. Yet this brief pandemic pause has allowed, or forced, greater reflection and introspection from those within the sport community.
Around the globe, we see sport at all levels taking an active role in addressing the coronavirus crisis, entertaining fans with old broadcasts, challenging people to participate in at-home activities, encouraging healthy lifestyle habits, contributing within local communities, and a number of other activations and activities. The NBA has partnered with Fanatics to produce masks to sell, with proceeds going toward feeding those in need both in the United States and Canada, and the league and its players are taking to social media to educate people about coronavirus. The English Chess Federation launched an online campaign to get children around the UK playing chess.
Yet, despite the best efforts of many, the purpose and value of sport have been put into question, and a lack of collective leadership from the global sports community reflects the disjointed and self-serving attitudes that have long affected the international sport world. Money was and seemingly is still at the forefront of all sport decisions. In the Bundesliga, fans are not pleased with the league’s lack of foresight for a sustainable financial future, nor do they agree with the league’s decision to host matches behind closed doors. Fan Project chief Michael Gabriel summed it up: "We have to differentiate between the short-term necessity and a long-term improvement. The two are linked: if we don't solve the current problem, long-term strategies are pointless."
Predictions are abounding, yet we must not be tempted to put too much stock into guesswork of where sport will be in a week, in six months or in a year – for where do we find the predictions of six months ago? Instead, we must do our best to master our own destiny, taking action now to lay the groundwork for a better tomorrow.