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Sports24 columnist Tank Lanning is ignorant and racially stereotyped on transformation in SA rugby, argues veteran sports journalist Echbert Boezak.

  • by Piet Rampedi
  • 3 Years ago
  • 0

Think Tank?? I think not, Tank!

 Dear Tank
From your last column, entitled “Who is the racist now?” I have noted that you have an eight-year old boy. I’m a family man myself. I have two girls. I’m sure you and I have seen our fair share of children’s movies. But the one movie which really reminded me of you and your “expert analysis” of sporting matters is the movie “Inside Out”.  The film is set in the mind of a young girl where she has five personified emotions: “Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust”.Reading your columns in recent months, dealing especially with rugby, transformation and the appointment of Allister Coetzee as Springbok coach, my emotions have resembled those seen in above mentioned movie . “Sadness” at your breathtaking ignorance and racial stereotyping when it comes to transformation issues, “Anger” at your lack of understanding of our painful sporting history, “Disgust” at your arrogance and dismissive nature when addressing issues of race in our sport. I honestly “Fear” for the damage that you do on a weekly basis, promoting archaic racial steroptypes with your “expert analysis” on rugby matters. “Joy” is one of those emotions that have thus far escaped me whilst attempting to read your columns.You so glibly mention that the NBA is 74.4% black while the American population is 77.7% white and that white people still go to games to support their team every week. Really Tank? Have you heard of Apartheid? Yes that oppressive system which the world condemned?  That discriminatory system that denied many black sportsmen the chance to represent South Africa? Did it happen in America as well??  No Tank, what you see in the NBA is a reflection of the best sportsmen begin on show. Our country has never had that opportunity to showcase all of its best sportsmen on an equal playing field. Given this context, do you truly understand what transformation in sport is about? Your comments are not only insulting to those who never had the opportunity to represent South Africa but also to those that sacrificed their lives for equal opportunities for all.Fact: Black people have been playing rugby in South Africa for more than 100 years. They have a extraordinary history and produced players of exceptional skill. Some of them never had the opportunity to play for South Africa. It’s a shame yet you seem to think that black people are somehow “forced into the sport” or as you put it, “used for window dressing.”

But your most offensive line surely must be “Would it be so terribly tragic if it turned out that white guys are just better than blacks in rugby?”

Since 1992 our rugby history is laden with extraordinary stories of black Springboks excelling. Do you remember Chester Williams’ four tries against Samoa in the 1995 World Cup? Or how Deon Kayser turned a match on its head against Scotland in the 1999 World Cup? Ricky January’s match-winning try against the All Blacks in 2008 which sealed the Boks’ first win ever in Dunedin. Jongi Nokwe managed four tries as well against Australia in 2008. How about Nizaam Carr? He must be one of the best number 8’s in Super Rugby at the moment? Or Siya Kholisi? Or Garth April that won the game for the Sharks against the Highlanders last week? Just the other day Jonathan Mokuena coached Pukke to Varsity Cup success in his first season.

Fact: The Northern Bulls of 2002 became the first side to lose all its Super Rugby games in a season. They were coached my Heyneke Meyer and were 95% white.

Merit knows no colour Tank.

Lastly, do you know what racism really is? Have you experienced its brutality? If so, why then cry racism at each attempt  to redress the inequalities of the past? Structural racism still exists in our everyday lives. It is the same structural racism that automatically labels you as a “rugby expert” when you’ve played but a handful of games for Western Province and have no Super Rugby or international experience. Yet you questioned the abilities of Mzwandile Stick, who was appointed as the new Springbok assistant coach, despite him having played Super Rugby and coached at provincial level. He was also one of South Africa’s best Sevens players of all time.

Here’s a thought: If your son’s black friend Siya, whom you quoted in your article, eventually becomes a Springbok at the expense of your boy, is that racism too?

Echbert Boezak is a broadcast journalist. He has been covering sport for the last 17 years and has worked for some of the country’s biggest news organisations. He has covered a number of international events and world cups, where he has actually witnessed how black sportsmen excel.

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