Friday 02 December 2022

Bad sport

So junior sports minister Jet Bussemaker plans to take action against aggression, discrimination and over-consumption of alcohol in sport, does she? It is a noble aim indeed, but perhaps an impossible one. It’s partly the nature of the beast.


Sport, whatever the policy makers might imagine, is not about being part of a team and working together. Sport is all about winning.
Bussenmaker should spend a Saturday watching seven and eight-year-olds play hockey or football and listen to the perma-tanned mothers screaming at the referee when little Jaap’s goal is disallowed if she wants proof.
Discrimination on the pitch is a different matter. Discrimination is not an issue for sport alone. Making negative comments about other peoples’ lifestyle, appearance and beliefs has become acceptable in large parts of Dutch society as a whole, under the misnomer ‘freedom of speech’.
Little Jaap’s dad doesn’t see anything wrong with describing the other team as a ‘bunch of gays’. And after the match is over, he is happy to retire to the bar with the other dads for a couple of beers and harangue the ref some more. If Bussemaker really wants to make a difference, she should start with the parents.

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