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Combating racism in sports

/ 05:15 AM August 23, 2019

Racism in sports crosses global boundaries. That’s why now is a good time as any to wage war against this scourge in any league or sporting event on earth.

For every battle won, it seems like 10 more instances of racism in sports—professional or otherwise and almost always directed at players by fans—happened worldwide in the past year.

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The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida said it “recorded 52 acts of racism in sports in the United States in 2018, up from 41 in 2017.”

Internationally, there were 137 episodes of hate and bigotry during athletic competitions mostly in soccer pitches last year, according to TIDES. That was a sharp increase from 79 acts of racism in 2017.

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Local sports tournaments have been immune from racial slurs and abuse.

But one horrific racial gesture by a player—not by a fan—against a player on the opposing team last week spotlighted in one glaring instance that bigotry in sports needs to be eradicated from our shores.

The burden of responsibility rests on PBA commissioner Willie Marcial, whose venerated basketball league—Asia’s first pay for play—shouldn’t be bedeviled by bigotry.

A cloud hangs over it since San Miguel’s Arwind Santos, a former league MVP, was caught on camera making a monkey gesture at import Terrence Jones of TNT KaTropa.

The unfortunate incident happened  during the first half of the multititled Beermen’s 99-94 win in Game 5 of the recent Commissioner’s Cup championship series.

Santos, fined P200,000 by the league, has since apologized and Jones, who is Black, has accepted his act of contrition after a bitter back and forth on social media.

To prevent another ugly chapter in the league, Marcial is exploring ways to prevent racial bigotry in the PBA. The steps include a planned class to be taught by an expert from the US Embassy or a multinational company to league players, coaches and vital personnel currently on a break until the Governors’ Cup next month.

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As a first-round draft choice, the 27-year-old Jones never prospered in the NBA. But after a stint with the PBA, the former Houston Rockets power forward sure could polish his faded glory and return to the world’s premier basketball tournament someday.

We saw how he made bold, sweeping moves to the basket. He plucked rebounds like he was picking apples. He scored from downtown and threaded the lane.

Sure he taunted. And although he always put on a fighting face for 48 minutes of basketball, Jones, according to Marcial, is a good guy off the court.

San Miguel fans hated his guts. But Jones did not deserve a nasty racial gesture.

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TAGS: Percy D. Della, Racism, racism in sports, Southpaw
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