St Johns High School Easter Rugby Festival. Grey College vs Linden. 190308. Grey eighthman Adriaan Theisinger fends off Linden scrumhalf Nicol Russouw. Picture: Etienne Rothbart.
St Johns High School Easter Rugby Festival. Grey College vs Linden. 190308. Grey eighthman Adriaan Theisinger fends off Linden scrumhalf Nicol Russouw. Picture: Etienne Rothbart.

A crushing blow for the country’s sporting youth

By Mark Keohane Time of article published May 21, 2021

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CAPE TOWN – On Thursday, the school kids who love sport were rocked with the immediate suspension of all contact sport. What constitutes a contact sport is up for interpretation, but even mountain bike racing was suspended.

It was a crushing blow for this country’s youth, who only a month ago finally got the go-ahead to enjoy the pleasures of schools sport, and who got to escape the restrictive realities of the past 15 months, since South Africa went into the Covid-19 lockdown.

It was a decision made without any discussion or consultation with the schools, and it came out of nowhere for those provinces in which there have been minimal reports of Covid19 cases.

It was disturbingly typical of so many decisions forced on South Africans, in the name of safety, health and Covid-19.

There was no science to the decision and, frankly, there was absolutely no logic applied. Every school, in every province in South Africa, was lumped together.

Whether there was a case of Covid19 or not, there would be no contact sport and no interaction with other schools on the sports fields, courts or arenas.

It was a crass decision that didn’t – and doesn’t – take school children into account.

It was absurd because the schools’ contact sports have been suspended, which includes U18s – but those same kids could go play for club U19 teams this weekend!

It was a decision based on subjectivity, as was the call to ban the purchase of cigarettes. Equally, the “go to” rallying cry of always wanting to ban alcohol sales.

Cigarettes are no longer a discussion, six months after the sale had been banned in the name of Covid-19, yet we are still dealing with wave after wave of Covid-19.

Alcohol sales have nothing to do with Covid-19 and everything to do with the medically motivated ban – that hospital beds will be taken up due to drink-fuelled behaviour and its consequences, and not by those infected with Covid-19.

Those who want to drink booze have always found a way of getting it, so the argument is flawed.

Equally, the argument that because of a cluster outbreak of Covid-19 infections among some schools in Gauteng, the rest of the country’s schools sports system is shut down.

There is such a disregard for the country’s youth and in engaging with the youth.

I tweeted: “None of us oldies should ever dismiss the incredible sacrifice of those 17 to 21-year-olds who have put their coolest years on hold to potentially give us a few more. Now let’s do the same and understand climate change, and afford these kids the same life courtesy.”

The ignorant sought to mock my tweet.

These fools could not comprehend that our youth have temporarily ceded their freedom, so that those most vulnerable to Covid-19 (older people), have more protection against Covid-19 infections.

This older grouping includes so many who do little to protect the future of our youth’s planet, through continued denial about climate change.

My daughter is 18 and my son is 21. I have seen their sacrifices over the past 15 months.

For those in their final year of school, 2020 was hollow and 2021 is proving to have as little taste.

It is the small escapes, like sport, which will keep the minds conditioned to battle the emotional strains of not being able to live like teenagers, but to conform to an imprisoned being, in the most restrictive of environments.

I admire the youth for remaining strong throughout the past 15 months, but I detest those who govern without consequence and who determine policy that has no consequence on their well-being.

@mark_keohane

IOL Sport

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