Don’t Politicize Sport

Don’t Politicize Sport

Sport(s) is an activity that is almost innate to human beings and , often times, it brings out both the competitive spirit, sportsmanship and the best in people. In recorded history, right from the Olympic games to other forms of great sporting competitions and pedestrian forms of sporting activity, like mohalla cricket or football, people have enjoyed and thrived on sport. Having said this, sport must not and should not be politicized and attempted to be employed as “sublimating” activity. That is, a compensatory activity which coverts one impulse or feeling into another. This has a searing resonance in Kashmir- conflict zone- where the consciousness of people is structured by the conflict and, in one form or the other, determines their approach and attitudes- generally and specifically. The prosaic fact of the matter is that nothing can substitute conflict resolution in terms of the conflict in and over Kashmir. The conflict not only has material, physical, politico- legal aspects but also has powerful psycho-emotional drivers. These accrue from the history of the conflict but also its various permutations and combinations. There are contextual and structural variables and constants that actually determine the nature, form , thrust and longevity of the conflict. Unless and until these are addressed, nothing really will happen to the conflict in Kashmir dimension of the conflict. To deem and hold sport and sporting activity as surrogates for conflict resolution does not merely constitute politicization of sport but also is sheer vanity. Sport is a neutral activity which should correspond to the essence and nature of sport and sportsmanship and it should not be used as a device. Yes, historically , sporting activity , has been employed in the domain of interstate politics for the purposes of interstate diplomacy. The “ping pong” diplomacy taken recourse to by President Nixon and Henry Kissinger , in the hey days of the Cold War springs to mind here. But , here sport was employed in interstate relations to break ice for the larger good. If , at all then, sport is to be used for the greater good, perhaps , it could behoove powers that be to employ it for détente between India and Pakistan by a sporting context between the two countries. The aim of this contest should be to break ice between the two countries and then begin a dialogue over Kashmir. However, given the climate of opinion in India and the political drift in both India and Pakistan, this appears unlikely. Till then, let sport be sport and not an instrument!

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