Sports unite people of different nationalities and blur the boundaries that separate them. It forms a common culture and language of communication that can bring people closer in this divisive world.
The separation of sports and politics is an essential feature for the survival and integrity of any sport. The Indian cricket team in the third ODI against Australia in Ranchi wore military caps.
This was a symbol of solidarity with the Indian defence forces in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack. The PCB filed a complaint against the act which was rejected by the ICC. The ICC said it had granted permission for the display.
The actual act of wearing a cap cannot be disputed as the governing body of cricket granted permission. This, however, opens up an entirely different conversation. Moeen Ali in 2014 was banned from wearing wristbands that supported the Palestinian cause.
In comparison the Indian team was allowed to display their symbolic support. The precedence these acts set can send shockwaves throughout the world of cricket. We are looking at a world that blurs the line between politics and sports.
These two realms have usually been kept separate to ensure the credibility and uniting spirit of sports. Breaking that barrier creates many unintended consequences.
The governing body of a sport cannot be affected by a monopoly of one board as it sets up a dangerous precedence for other decisions. India has been vocal about isolating Pakistan from the international arena. This would be a devastating blow to the cricket world as Pakistan has been a driving force for the spread of cricket. Disenfranchising such a huge audience can spell doom for the entire structure of cricket in the world.
India’s humiliating loss of the series at home was covered by this grand show of nationalism. India was 2 up in the series and lost the series 3-2. When a sportsman is more focused on politics, it is harder to deliver the quality of competition expected from them.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 15th, 2019.
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