Monday, October 28, 2013

Fair Play: How about discrimination in sports?

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Oct. 28 issue)
THOUGH primarily intended to protect the LBGT community, the Anti-Discrimination ordinance of the Cebu City Council may also affect the way sports events are conducted, even perhaps, the actions of some sports fans, too.

The bill says, “It is hereby prohibited to discriminate any person and/or group of persons on the basis of their disability, age, health status, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity and religion.”

How would that affect sports?



Some organizers bar foreign runners from joining their events, while some limit their participation to the lower categories.

Would this form of discrimination be halted under the new ordinance?

And that’s not the only provision that may affect sports events or the conduct of fans.

Included in the definition of discrimination are acts that manifest bigotry, vilification and humiliation and in one of the biggest sports events in the country, these acts were manifested by a small cluster of fans: the PBA Governors Cup finals and fans chanting “Monkey, Monkey” at San Mig import Marqus Blakely.

What does a basketball event in Manila got to do with Cebu?

Everything!

The fact that it happened in a the PBA—the national pastime that has, for decades, featured imports—shows the lack of sensitivity of some sports fans.

Consider, too, of how some are quick to condemn—and gang up on—individuals who discriminate against us, but seem to turn a blind eye when it’s us hurling the racial slurs. Check the media mileage of the Megan Young incident and that of the PBA finals.

Or even, of the things that are happening in the football scene.

During the Smart Club match between Queen City United and Pachanga a few months back, someone chanted, “Go Nigger go!

And since foreign players will become a regular presence in the local football scene, I fear incidents like that would increase if the issue would not be nipped in the bud.

A year after the ordinance was enacted, the Cebu City council is pushing for an anti-discrimination commission and if that pushes through, I hope this body will not only look at incidents where Pinoys discriminate against the LGBT community, but also when it’s us discriminating against foreigners.

Taunting in sports is a normal thing, but there’s taunting, and THERE’S taunting.

There’s another ugly incident back in 2005, this time during the Asian Girls Volleyball meet in Mandaue. I sat near a group of fans, who smiled and insulted the Indian national team in the vernacular, taking comfort in the fact that the objects of their abuse didn’t understand a word they were saying.

They did it, while the team passed inches away from them, saying those words with a smile. And they laughed.

And, mind you, that foreign team was made up of teenage girls. Makes you wonder, how would they react if it happened to their daughters?

I hope the anti-discrimination commission will be created and gets the support it needs and starts looking out for all forms of discrimination.

Including those done in sports events, by organizers or by the fans.

If we are vigilant and quick to condemn those who mal-treat us or our kababayans abroad, then let’s use the same standards on ourselves.

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