South Africans woke up to an unexpected and unwelcome Christmas “gift” from our Ministry of Sports this week. Reliable media outlets have reported that our government, in its infinite wisdom, has decided to draft a bill to nationalise all sporting bodies in South Africa including SA Rugby and Cricket SA.
What an amazingly astute and well-thought out initiative!
Our national teams will be banned from competing in the Olympics. FIFA will ban our soccer team from competing in the World Cup and that’s not to mention what implications this will have on the Springboks and our beleaguered cricket team. Government interference in sports is prohibited according to international codes.
All of this so that our esteemed Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, can have personal “control” over our sporting codes! Apparently the demographics of the national teams need change to improve “nation building”.
Did he not watch the Rugby World Cup and its impact on the nation? Did he not see the reaction to the victory tour of the country?
We have already seen first hand the damage that political interference can have on our sports. A ridiculous 2am intervention from the powers that be arguably cost the Proteas their best shot at the Cricket World Cup title in 2015 when it was decided that an injured Vernon Philander be forced to play – against his will – instead of an in-form Kyle Abbott in the semifinal vs New Zealand. Look what a mess CSA finds itself in as a direct result of political interference.
Financially, this could mean the end of sport in this country as we know it. Without access to major sporting events, sponsors would withdraw their funding – note disgruntled sponsors withdrawing support for SA cricket. This, in turn, would mean a lack of investment in grass roots development. Yes, the underprivileged would suffer so that a single politician can take control of the wheel.
As completely ludicrous of a concept that sounds, it is an entirely plausible scenario in South Africa where we are masters at cutting off our nose to spite our face.
We have seen this movie before – too much authority in the hands of one misguided individual who drives his fiefdom to the brink of extinction before an 11th hour about turn and scramble to salvage something from the wreck.
This is one Christmas present that we don’t need!