Just not cricket

I have something to say. It’s not a shock and I’d imagine it’s something almost all my readers will agree with me on:

The Taliban are a bunch of dicks.

I’m a pretty liberal dude, so a lot of their beliefs go against how I think the world should be and how people should treat each other. Their stance on women’s rights, other faiths and homosexuality are three things I find abhorrent.

For the most part I pay little heed to what they have to say. I know it’s probably going to be hateful and bigoted so I just walk on by. Just like I can now ignore Jordan’s autobiography hype because I know each one is going to be her whinging about some man doing her wrong and how she’s just a nice girl trying to do the best for her kids.

So, it takes them saying or doing something particularly noteworthy for me to comment on it here.

What have they done, I hear you ask?

What they’ve done is basically tell the Pakistani press and public to stop playing tribute to Sachin Tendulkar, the recently retired Indian cricket player and legend of the sport (a 24 year career for India, and has played in and scored more runs than any other player).

Sachin Tendulkar- "the god of cricket"

Sachin Tendulkar- “the god of cricket”

Tension between Pakistan and India is nothing new, the two have basically been staring each other down for decades, and even at sporting events there’s a bit of hot tempered feeling.

What the Taliban are doing is saying that praising an Indian player like Tendulkar is “against Pakistani nationalism and loyalty to the country” and that they should reserve praise for Pakistani players like Misbah-ul-Haq, even though they then dis the guy by calling him “substandard” and a “low-level player”.

Gotta feel bad for Misbah-ul-Haq

Gotta feel bad for Misbah-ul-Haq

Here’s the thing that they haven’t grasped, sport is a unifying thing. Of course, it causes rifts and divisions and there are idiots who’ll kick someone’s head in because they support another team, but for the most part sport is about bringing people together.

I mean look at the case of Tendulkar, this is an Indian athlete and a Hindu getting praise from the Pakistani press, despite the political and religious differences between those two nations. I’m not saying that world peace will come from the sound of leather on willow or the Umpire signalling a six, but sport does bring people together.

At the Olympic Games pretty much the entire world threw their support behind Usain Bolt, people talk about Brazilian football with reverent tones and the All Blacks are the gods of Rugby Union. Sure, you might want your team to beat them, but you’re still pleased to watch them play. You can stand with someone from another country who’s language you don’t speak and cheer, wince and curse at the game together.

Figures like Tendulkar, Bolt, Pele, Lomu, Ali, Phelps and the Williams sisters transcend their nationalities and beliefs, they gain fans from wherever their sports are watched, regardless of the differences between them and their audience.

Why? Because they exemplify skill, determination, commitment and personality. They are larger than life figures, legends in their fields and we root for them because they show us how good someone can be.

The Taliban are opposed to the respect shown to Tendulkar because they stand for things that go against what sport is all about. Sport is about inclusion, joy, acceptance and respect, at it’s best it exists apart from the rest of the world. Planet sport is a place where all should be welcome and where everyone is judged on their skills.

The Taliban can’t comprehend that you should show respect for an athlete from another country if he’s the best around, and that doesn’t mean you love and support your own country even less. And as for it being “against Pakistani nationalism”, well good, nationalism is an ugly thing, as Orwell put it “Nationalism is power hunger tempered by self-deception”. It’s a darker, more hateful cousin of patriotism, and not something that should be preserved or strengthened.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


One Comment on “Just not cricket”

  1. […] while ago I wrote about how the Taliban were being a bunch of dicks by trying to get Pakistani cricket fans not to celebrate the career of Indian legend Sachin […]

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