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Critics say Quinton de Kok should have just shown solidarity with his team and taken the knee to protest against racism before the start of SA’s match against the West Indies on Tuesday, saying “What’s the big deal?”

Cricket SA (CSA) had just issued a directive imposing on every player to take the knee. For many people of Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith, taking the knee for any reason other than obeisance to God is anathema. Even if faith is not at issue, many people are repulsed by the supplication implied by taking the knee. The Pakistani team never takes the knee.

To adopt wholesale a US import that is controversial to say the least is lazy and unimaginative. Those taking the knee say it is a symbol of opposition to racism; others are opposed to veneration of the organisation Black Lives Matter (BLM) as a signifier of opposition to racism. A detailed report on BLM can be read here: 

There is no reason another gesture could not be found, which all players could support. The gesture has become more important than the cause, and for CSA to interfere with an individual’s right of expression or belief is overstepping its role. It has infringed on the constitutional rights of players.

Displays supporting causes are common in sport, but the “racism” protest is becoming a permanent feature. However, our research repeatedly shows that in SA, racism is not a main source of people’s gravest depredations; unemployment is always at the top of the list.

Repeated displays of virtue signalling to fans will ultimately be resented because, rightly or wrongly, it will be seen as an accusation that whatever they do will never be enough. And, but for the fans, the existence of professional sport is irrelevant.

Sara Gon
Institute of Race Relations

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