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When all is lost in a game, the true character of a person becomes apparent. For some sportsmen and fans that means hurling racial abuse.
All that remains for them is the weak idea: “you may have beaten me, but I am still superior to you in ways you will never comprehend”.
Such a disgraceful scene played out in a school rugby game in Pinetown between Pietermaritzburg’s Voortrekker High School and Pinetown Boys’ High last month. The Grade 12 offender has been banned by his school from the sport.
What would cause a Grade 12 pupil, born into a democratic society, to behave so crassly?
In the country race issues still exist. The KZN rugby club, Jaguars, has asked for an investigation into alleged racist incidents during a clash with Richards Bay Rugby Club.
Last month a 17-year-old Brits schoolgirl was turned away from hockey trials that were “by invitation only” – to Afrikaners – in Rustenburg.
The SA Human Rights Commission is investigating claims that Rego Modise, a Grade 11 pupil at Wagpos Hoërskool, was told that hockey trials at Hoërskool Grenswag were for white pupils only.
And internationally what examples do young people have? We are all too familiar with the accusations levelled against some, such as Luis Suarez and John Terry, in the English Premiership. This popular football league is tainted by the unsportmanlike and despicable spectre of racism.
The Pinetown pupil has since asked his parents to forgive his attackers – he had also been assaulted during the game. This young man, whose dignity was injured by a bigoted and prejudiced youngster, took the moral high ground. Some might have instead harboured hate and spouted racist or hateful remarks in reply.
It is unlikely that offenders, be it fans or players, will heed this young man’s lead.
Administrators need to consider lifetime bans to prevent the image of sport being tarnished.