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Enough is enough!
by Venu Bolisetty
Oct 20, 2007
This whole media circus concerning the monkey taunts Symmonds endured in Vadodara is quite appalling and disgusting. Instead of addressing the issue, there has been severe mud-slinging and finger-pointing from all parties involved - except for Symmonds, who comes out the bigger man on this occasion. We don't need to check the wall calendar to know that we live at a time when racism and discrimination are frowned upon. The whole incident has led me to ask this question: Is it really the right time to challenge one's moral high ground when supporting Andrew Symmonds's claim?

More specifically, certain sections of the media, including those in India and Australia, have been challenging the authority of Australian cricketers and their governing body on making such complaints. The argument goes: spectators and cricketers from Australia have a history of being raucous and racist and this whining and complaining from the Australians is a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black. Really? How absurd? I don't recall any racist incident that involved Andrew Symmonds in all his years of play. At least on the account of him being innocent we should thoroughly investigate this and ensure that justice be done.

It is also disappointing to note that the Indian players have so far not made their views public in this debate. Since many have repeatedly pointed out, the Indians themselves have been subjected to such attacks in the past. With the amount of hatred being generated in the Australian media, such incidents, unfortunately, should only increase this December when India visit down under. Perhaps, they are concentrating on the cricket and don't want to get involved in yet another controversy. Or perhaps they've been embarrassed by the BCCI Secretary Ratnakar Shetty's remarks to an Australian journalist and decided to stay away from it. For those uninitiated, Mr. Shetty believes that this incident was purely a case of misunderstanding and suggests we get on with it. I envision (hope dearly for) this to be the case but, the comments were a bit insensitive given that the investigation wasn't complete and I wonder if it had even started since, the BCCI hadn't received “the letter” at that point!

Over the last few years such incidents have been growing steadily and the ICC's zero-tolerance policy has done little to combat this trend. Such incidents only tarnish the sport and it also takes the focus away from the game. Enough is enough. Cricket should take a leaf out of Football's page, as strange as that sounds, and employ something similar to their "Stand up and Speak up" campaign.

The Stand up and Speak up campaign was launched by Nike and Thierry Henry, a French Football player, who was a victim of such attacks during his early days. The object of the campaign was to encourage the majority of the Football fans to drown out the minority racist noise. It worked remarkably well. Five million wrist bands to support the cause were snapped up in no time. The campaign also drew support from other popular and notable players.

Viewers who watched the ICC World Cup this year already know that the ICC promoted the social campaign to “Unite for Children Unite against AIDS.” Given that the ICC has been actively supporting social change. A campaign such as this should fit well within their platform. The jumbotron flashing messages reminding the spectators to behave well is useless. It is fairly reasonable that a good proportion of the fans in the grounds of the subcontinent are illiterate. They will recognize and respond to their heroes.

Cricket players have humongous influence over the spectators and they should make use of that. Remember that not too long ago a boorish crowd in Calcutta had to be settled down by Sachin Tendulkar. Besides, if we’re going to miss the first ball and last ball of every over I’d rather it be for a worthy social cause than an ad promoting consumer products.

Feedback or comments, please e-mail venu at dreamcricket dot com
 
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