Thursday, June 30, 2005

What about the players?

Evil House Monkey pointed me at an article on CricInfo, where Andrew McLean asks the above question: what about the players? They have sporting careers to think about, and for some this may be their only chance ever to play an international match. To which I think the only response can be that there are some things more important than cricket, and any player (such as, say, Jacob Oram) who thinks otherwise is exhibiting colossal moral blindness.

Of greater concern is the fact that the players depend on cricket for their livelihood and would suffer a large financial loss (up to $40,000) if the tour did not go ahead. I'm sympathetic to this, and my natural instinct is to compensate them if the government forces the tour to be cancelled. But there's no legal obligation to do so, and if the players manage to lose that sympathy (by, say, making more dumb comments like Oram's putting cricket ahead of torture and human rights abuses), well, fuck them. I'm willing to compensate helpless victims caught in the middle, but I'm not willing to pay off people who are simply arseholes.

More generally, McLean trots out the tired old argument that "sport is separate from politics". But this is simply another example of moral blindness. Sport does not happen in a vaccuum, and who people play sport with has political and moral consequences. Sports teams such as the Black Caps are seen as official representatives and their presence as conveying official approval. By touring Zimbabwe, the Black Caps will not just be conveying their own personal approval of the Mugabe regime as fit people to visit and talk with - but also, by implication, that of every other New Zealander. And I don't see why we should tolerate an unelected body doing that at all.


Calling players 'assholes' for wanting to maintain the career they have spent most of their lives striving for is a little unfair.
Your argument is based on the flawed premise that Oram giving up his match fees by not touring would aomehow stop "torture and human rights abuses", whereas a 'tour under protest' could end up drawing more international attention to Zimababwe than a no-show.

Posted by Nick Eynon : 6/30/2005 06:27:00 PM

I'm a helper!
evil house monkey.

Posted by Anonymous : 6/30/2005 11:23:00 PM

Nick.....This noise coming from the left isn't about torture and human rights, it's about back patting and election campaigning. Dont be fooled and believe this has anything to do with the suffering of the people of Zimbabwe.

Posted by Anonymous : 6/30/2005 11:48:00 PM

Which is why they have made such a noise prior to the cricketers going....oh hang on.

Posted by Anonymous : 7/01/2005 12:03:00 AM

"Arsehole" is exactly how I would describe someone who does not care about the abuses of the Mugabe regime and is willing to profit from it.

So far the players have played this very carefully; they've managed to convey the impression of sympathy and of being helplessly caught in the middle, but every single one of them has chosen to go, and not a man among them is speaking out to demand NZC or the government find them a way out. Unpacking this, it seems that they do not actually give a shit. Fortunately, the public seems to be wising up to this, and pressure may soon start being applied to the players to speak up and be counted.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 7/01/2005 12:19:00 AM

"sport is separate from politics"
"Sport is seperate from morals."
"sports men are seperate from morals"
no problems there...

Posted by Genius : 7/01/2005 01:10:00 AM

Thanks for the compliments, Anon.

As for National, I'm pleased to see them adopting a moral position, and while paying off the ICC has its flaws, like many New Zealanders I'm willing to pay simply in order to get them to go away. As for voting for them, I don't see the tour as an election issue, and there are other policy areas I'll be judging parties on (like not making Don Brash PM, for one).

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 7/01/2005 01:19:00 AM

There are eight other countries in the ICC to play cricket against - cricket careers last about 15 years, so it's a bit much to suggest that it's any players "only chance".

Zimbabwe isn't really up to test standard anyway after Mugabe forced most of the good players out. Possibly Fiji, Canada or Kenya might welcome some games if the players want an alternative touring destination.

Posted by Rich : 7/01/2005 10:39:00 AM

Idiot if you will put up 40,000 dollars of your own money and donate to opposition groups in Zimbabwe then maybe your high horse may be justified. If not then I think your slandering of other people as arseholes etc is puerile. You don't know these people, you don't know their motives. To claim that "they do not give a shit" on the basis of the argument that they have not made the appropriate noises to placate you is narcissistic. You do not know what their actual attitudes are.

It's more evidence that you are far more interested in moral grandstanding than in actually helping the less well off. Much like the Greens.

Posted by Sock Thief : 7/01/2005 12:04:00 PM

Ai. I'm still seeing a fundamental lack of understanding of how the ICC works. Zimbabwe has test status for the same reason Bangladesh and Kenya do: because it gives another vote in that 'bloc' on the ICC. Canada will NEVER get test status and it's nothing to do with how good they are at cricket.

However. Do the same rules apply to people who go to work in Saudi Arabia? And will we be seeing the same level of stand against athletes going to the Beijing Olympics?

Posted by Ghet : 7/01/2005 12:32:00 PM

Slightly pedantic, but Kenya does not actually have test status, Canada will never get test status as the game there is a minority sport and there's little TV money in it as opposed to being the #2 sport (behind football) in Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

Idiot/Savant, what is your position on NZ touring Pakistan in 2008? (assuming it is still a military disctatorship as it is now)
I'd be interested to know where you draw the line on sporting sanctions. For instance should the NZ Breakers basketball team have toured China earlier this year?

Posted by Nick Eynon : 7/01/2005 01:08:00 PM

Ghet: Oh, I certainly intend to raise my voice about that when the time comes, unless China shows significant progress on the human rights front in the meantime. They've taken some baby steps, but there's a lot more that needs to be done.

Nick: I opposed Musharraf's visit here on the basis of Pakistan's human rights record, and I'd oppose any visit by a national sports team bearing our flag to a country where torture is systemic and approved by the government, or where gross abuses of human rights are occuring.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 7/01/2005 01:32:00 PM

So what did you do when the breakers toured?

Posted by Anonymous : 7/01/2005 03:02:00 PM

Nothing, because I didn't know about it.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 7/01/2005 04:24:00 PM