OPINION: Be a sport, step up to the plate during the lockdown
CAPE TOWN – We don't have any sport at this time of global social distancing because of the Covid-19. We, as a nation, may be in lockdown mode from today but on-field sport across the world is in shutdown mode.
Off the field, sport will and can never be shut down. Players, coaches, administrators, sport writers and the most important people of all, the fans, have taken to social media to give encouragement to everyone, to share their own experience of dealing with self-isolation and also how they are coping with lockdown.
It doesn’t matter the sporting code or country, there is an endless supply of content from the world’s sports people. These sporting celebrities are proving as inspirational off the field as they do when performing their chosen profession. They’re educating everybody about Covid-19, in terms of the dos and the don'ts.
Some have tested positive for the virus and immediately let their followers know. They’ve given updates on the recovery and also detailed the experience.
It is so important they continue to do this, so passionate sporting fans, who make up such a large percentage of the world’s population, can take seriously the threat of this pandemic and also be versed in how to best safeguard against the infection.
What these sporting celebrities are telling their followers is that the virus doesn’t know status. It also doesn’t know the origin of country, religion, colour or culture. It also doesn’t know financial well-being.
One of the first global profile athletes to confirm his infection was basketball icon Kevin Durant. When one follower retweeted with “wow”, Durant’s response was “Why wow?” He emphasised just how real the virus is and that no one is exempt.
Springbok captain Siya Kolisi has also used his social media platforms to remind people about the importance of washing hands, avoiding others and doing their bit for their neighbour by staying indoors.
Kolisi and his 2019 World Cup-winning side brought joy to South Africa beating England. Kolisi and his teammates have urged South Africans to make every sacrifice necessary and to show the kind of fight that characterises the spirit of a united and happier South Africa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa showed his statesmanship announcing the the 21-day lockdown. He spoke with clarity, certainty and empathy. Our sporting people have followed his lead and addressed their followers with as much conviction.
The seriousness of the lockdown can’t be overstated. If President Nelson Mandela could sacrifice 27 years in a prison cell for a better future for all South Africans, then 21 days in lockdown in one’s home is more a privilege than it could ever be a sacrifice.
Sport is not being played, but sport discussion is rampant, alive and on every social media platform.
Join the debates on which winger you would choose between Bryan Habana and Cheslin Kolbe, if only one could be chosen. Manchester United or Liverpool at their most dominant eras? Chiefs or Pirates, which combined “best of the best” XI would have more Chiefs or Pirates players? Dale Steyn or Allan Donald at their peak?
Pick a sport, pick a question and start the debate.
Relive the many glorious videos on YouTube of sporting moments that can never be dull and, over the next 21 days, start everyday with Chad Le Clos’s 2012 Olympic 200m butterfly final win against the American Michael Phelps and end every day with Cheslin Kolbe stopping half the England team as the Springboks triumphed in the World Cup.
Do that and the 21-day lockdown will feel like sporting heaven rather than an agonising form of self-isolation.@mark_keohane
Keohane is an award-winning sports journalist and a regular contributor to Independent Media.