Nick Mallett, Naas Botha and Ashwin Willemse in the SuperSport studio before Willemse’s walkout. Picture: Screengrab
Have you noticed how some people get defensive or hot under the collar when you bring up the question of transformation in sport?

Why raise such an issue, they complain, when all 56 million South Africans are subjects of a non-racial rainbow democracy in which everyone is equal?

Are we? Or is it a case of us being equal, but some more equal than others.

A few weeks ago, I was caught up in a conversation with a parent who complained bitterly about his son being overlooked for selection in his school rugby side “because the ridiculous quota system demands a certain number of blacks players be included in the squad”.

“My son is quite clearly a far better rugby player yet the black kids who are virtual newcomers to the game, got the nod. It’s just not fair.”

He was clearly overstating his case but as much as I tried to get a word in edgewise about our urgent need to level the playing fields, it all seemed to go in one ear and straight out the other.

And that’s where, I suspect, much of the problems lie.

We tend to tinker with the edges, grudgingly agree on targets to make our teams appear more representative, unearth a few gems of colour at a national level but then lapse into complacency, thinking the job’s done.

Sports transformation goes far beyond that - it must take root at the bottom. And for me, transformation is not just about competing on the field of play.

It must, of necessity, also include equal opportunities for people in other associated fields, like coaching, administration, sports commentating and hosting major sports events on TV and radio.

Remember the much-publicised incident last year when former Springbok wing Ashwin Willemse walked off the set at SuperSport, protesting about being undermined and patronised by his fellow panellists, Naas Botha and Nick Mallet? It did little to help the cause of transformation in sport broadcasting.

Which brings me to the question of whether enough is being done to groom more aspiring broadcasters of colour to host major sports events.

Take, for instance, someone like TV presenter Neil Andrews, whom I regard as a jack of many trades but a master of none. What qualifies him to be granted such an open canvas?

If Andrews is not hosting a TV broadcast on some major rugby international or leading a panel analysing Championship League soccer matches in Europe, he’s presenting at some of the biggest horse racing events in the country; helping punters choose the right horses for local race meetings or hosting panels on sports betting programmes.

My grouse is: Why should someone like Andrews enjoy such a large slice of the cake when others can easily be developed and groomed to share some of those plum jobs?

We need diversity in South Africa and with 56 million to choose from, that shouldn’t be too difficult.