Saturday, January 23, 2010

Our Sports Teams in Black and White

hat tip: censorbugbear reports

Affirmative Action and the Nazis part i
Affirmative Action and the Nazis part ii

This is an interesting piece and worth republishing here in full. It illustrates nicely the political agenda behind 'representivity' as favouring certain groups over others, rather than embodying any idea of fairness or 'equality'.


Written by Frans Cronje with Marius Roodt
Friday, 22 January 2010

Image Advocates of ‘representivity’ will be up in arms to learn that none of South Africa’s top three sporting codes is living up to the ideal of a perfect ‘racially representative’ society. A review of South Africa’s most recent cricket, rugby, and soccer squads reveals that not one of South Africa’s race groups makes up the ‘correct’ proportion of any national team. The fact that the general public appears not to be bothered gives the lie to the oft asserted claim that our society should strive to be ‘representative’.

Proponents of racial ‘representivity’ would have it that every facet of our society perfectly mirrors the racial make-up of the society. Hence if 10% of people are of Indian origin then 10% of doctors, mechanics, car-hijackers, and professional sports people should be of Indian origin. We are told that if this is not the case then there is something wrong with our society.

We are also told that ‘representivity’ is required by the Constitution. It is not. The Constitution requires that we strive to be a more equal society as for example in ensuring equality of opportunity. ‘Representivity’ should not be confused with the Constitutional requirement of equality for while an equal society might be ‘representative’, a ‘representative’ society is not necessarily equal.

In South Africa’s case the Government even has policies in place to engineer greater ‘representivity’. Many government departments have used such policy to shed staff that were deemed to detract from racial targets and quotas. Even in the private sector large businesses have to submit reports to the Government on what they are doing to align their staffing with South Africa’s broader demographic make-up. We are again assured that this is for our own benefit, the implication being that a ‘representative’ society will make for a happy and satisfied citizenry. ‘Representivity’, we are told, is therefore something we should all strive for and that questioning its importance is somehow unpatriotic and even racist.

But a quick look at South Africa’s three biggest sporting codes suggests that this is all nonsense. The table presents a racial breakdown of the current or most recent squads to have represented South Africa in cricket, rugby, and soccer. It then compares that breakdown to the proportion that each race group makes up of the general population.

Racial breakdown by number and proportion of players making up South Africa’s national cricket, rugby, and soccer squads.






South African cricket squad to tour India

1 or 0,9%

4 or 36.3%

1 or 0.9%

9 or 81.8%


The South African rugby squad that toured Europe in 2009

4 or 11%

7 or 19.4%


24 or 66%

1 or 2.7%

One squad member is a Zimbabwean immigrant

The current South African soccer training squad

20 or 68.9%

7 or 24.1%


2 or 6.9%


Contribution to the national population






In cricket 81% of the squad for the forthcoming tour of India is white, 1% is Indian, 36% is coloured, and 1% is African. This is greatly at odds with a racial breakdown of the broader population which is 9% white, 2.6% Indian, 9% coloured, and 79% African.

Things are not much different in rugby. Here 66% of the squad that toured Europe at the end of 2009 were white, there was no Indian representation, 19% of the squad were coloured, and 11% were African. The final one percent was made up by a Zimbabwean immigrant.

Soccer shows a similar picture. Here whites are underrepresented at only 6.9% of the national squad. Indians are not represented at all, coloured players are completely overrepresented at 24%, and Africans make up the remaining 69%.

Other than politicians and a scattering of racial ideologues how many South Africans lose sleep over these racial breakdowns? Letters to newspapers rarely, if ever, bemoan the fact that ‘there are too many coloured players in the national soccer team’ or ‘too few whites’. If such letters are a gauge of public opinion then the public is more concerned at the performance of national teams. In soccer a primary concern is that the ‘national soccer team will be eliminated from the first round of the World Cup’, not that a team ‘underrepresented by whites will be eliminated from the tournament’. Certainly the overwhelmingly black crowd that cheered the victorious World Cup Springbok rugby team on their ticker-tape parade through the streets of Johannesburg in 2007 were not there to protest that the cup was won by a team made up chiefly of ‘whites and coloured players’.

What the figures do, however, show is that efforts at promoting sport development especially in rugby and cricket have failed. The international ranking of our national soccer team suggests that soccer development is also failing. The concern here is not that our teams are ‘unrepresentative’ but that so much undiscovered talent has almost certainly been squandered. This should be a great concern because it shows that in sport, as in so many other fields, the equality of opportunity required by our Constitution is still far from being achieved. Nor is it likely to be achieved by politicians bemoaning the racial make-up of top teams when very little is being done to create opportunities for aspirant sportsmen.

1 Opinion(s):

Laager said...

And what about merit selection?

Who remembers Hasan Howa's famous warcry?
" You cannot play normal sport in an abnormal country!"

What goes around comes around