Let’s Boycott the State of Origin
Wait a minute… listen to what I am saying.
Timana Tahu should be in the State of Origin NSW team. Let us make sure he is there for the third game and that the players welcome him back. He should not be a victim of racism.
Racism in sport is not a rare event. The recent controversy regarding racist-speak in the rugby league ‘State-of-Origin’ competition is but a continuation of typical racism in Australia and in Australian sport.
As far as racism goes, there is not much of particular interest in this case except the celebrity status and associated sensationalist but unhelpful media coverage.
Listening to the sports commentators on Sunday afternoon, I became increasingly agitated by the stupid remarks. While no-one made comments in support of the racist offenders, there were some problems with the discussion.
Most remarks avoided the words ‘racism’ or ‘racist’, preferring instead to talk about ‘race’ or ‘racial’. ‘Racism’ and ‘racist’ as words, are almost banned from the english language in Australia. If someone were to use these words, most likely in an accusation, there would be an immediate rush of denials of racism in Australia.
I do not want to have to listen to sports ‘jocks’ adjudicate on whether the act of racism occurred or how racism should be addressed. Unless they are black or experienced racism they have no idea. ‘Taxi-driver opinions’ are of no use here.
But why is the incident getting so much airing. The problem is that the NRL, or ARL, QRL and NSWARL, have no firm stance on racism. The answer is easy – ZERO TOLERANCE.
As the Johns – Tahu incident slowly leaked into public viewing, drawn out over a number of days and still undisclosed in full detail, it has shown that no-one had a clue how to handle the situation.
Johns’ racist rants were obviously thought to be acceptable until Timana Tahu openly reacted. Johns should never have made the remarks and, if the football code had been serious about non-racism, he would have already been well aware of it.
It seems that Tahu discussed his concerns with the coach but that obviously did not lead to satisfactory resolution of the basic breach of trust in the football camp caused by Johns’ racism.
Tahu left the NSW team without going public with his complaint. Since then there has been a flurry of stupid and inadequate comments and responses.
As I mulled over the incident and public commentary, I came to a point of concern. Why is Timana Tahu now out of the NSW team?
Why is he carrying the burden of missing out on a career highlight? He should be on the field and we should be applauding him for his stance against racism and his commendable personal conduct in responding to it.
Yes, he withdrew from the squad. That was his choice. But the NSWRL should be making a statement that Tahu, and others, were rightfully offended and confirming that Tahu’s actions were supported by the league. The logical next step is to return Tahu into the team by giving him good reasons to return.
They should have immediately set about apologising to Tahu and asking him for his terms to re-join the squad. Tahu’s terms if they are as I would expect, in accordance with his conduct, should be immediately accepted.
So why didn’t I come to this conclusion earlier so that Tahu was not penalised by missing the second game? Too slow, I think.
(I will not fuss with any views that Tahu should have handled it in a different way. Rugby League has failed to establish the code of conduct and to enforce it. Tahu was the victim of a system tolerant of racism! Otherwise everyone in that NSW side should have complained as Tahu did.)
I had made my plans to watch the State of Origin game, on tomorrow night, but yesterday I asked myself why am I putting aside the racism to gratify my desire to watch this prominent sporting event. (I know many people who would refuse to watch the game, but they hate football anyway.)
So now I am resolved; they must reinstate Tahu to the NSW side and they must make it clear to the NSW players, the Queensland players, the fans and everyone that there is ZERO TOLERANCE of racism in rugby league. This is the only way out of this mess.
Even Andrew Johns should be agreeing with this and also be calling upon the NRL etc to include and enforce a code on racist comments. It is no good saying Johns is not a racist. If Johns had known and understood the code, he would still be the assistant coach for NSW.
So I am sending a message to the rugby league that they must reinstate Tahu for the third State of Origin game, OR ELSE, they will lose my valuable support. Please join in this call.