Nothing brings people together like sports. Sports have proven to have the ability to unite people of all nations and races with moments of national pride or just sheer fanaticism. In the words of the late Nelson Mandela, “Sports has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youths in a language they understand.”
Around the world, but in Europe in particular, the enthusiasm for sports becomes extremely huge; as well as in other countries around the world. For instance, in the United States, playing sports and getting into the big leagues, whether it be the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL or MSL presents most youths – especially the African-Americans people a way out of bullet-riddled sidewalks of street gangs violence, drug peddlers and outright poverty; and sometimes, allow them to be the voice for their communities and even nation.
The story is not much different in most parts of Africa and South America were succeeding at sports; especially football is one of the surest ways of escaping the shackles of poverty for you and your family.
Whether it is the regular European football leagues, the Champions League, the South America Copa Libertadores, the UEFA European Championship, the FIFA World Cup, or the Olympic Games, the big sports events hold more to their names than just giving the sport the scene it deserves. They are a great political strategy to promote the unity of one’s country as well as influence international diplomacy. The ideals of sports are that it is an important tool for promoting human rights, encouraging active peace and international understanding in the spirit of mutual respect between people of different origins, ideologies, and creeds.
Sports unite people from one nation to celebrate their culture and to be proud of their heritage in a healthy and perfectly normal way. But sports also unite people across borders. In ancient history, Greeks and Romans interrupted their battles to compete peacefully in the first Olympic Games. Today, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, and some other major European clubs have millions of faithful fans around the world- beyond the borders of the countries of their origin.
But as powerful and unifying as sports may be; there is a cankerworm that is eating at the very heart of it: “Racism”!
Somewhere within all that is good with sports, certain elements have found a way through social media platforms to continue to gnaw away at the beauty of it by racially abusing people and using homophobic slurs at people they perceive to be different from them.
Over the years, sportsmen and women, and everyone within the sports community have been making efforts to stamp out racism from sports. The #NoRoomForRacism and #KickItOut campaigns have been geared towards making sports one in which everyone is accepted as equal across all races and creeds.
Unfortunately, Social Media has failed to step up to be counted in the fight against this ugly monster that has not only reared its head within sports but threatens to destroy its power to unify. The call for the social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others to be more involved and sincere in the quest to kick racism out of sports have seemed to make them unwilling or hesitant partners in the fight against racism.
This is why the social media boycott this weekend from Friday 30th April to Monday 3rd May by some sports personalities and some major sports bodies like UEFA and FIFA, the English FA, and others is a powerful testament to the need to be once again one united and powerful community capable of using sports to effect the desired changes in our world.
Together, united, sports can make social media bow to the will of the people: to have a world that is rid of racism and discrimination. It starts now!