The South Africa Sport Boycott

Anyone in New York City this evening? Anthology Film Archives is re-screening Connie Field’s excellent apartheid documentary, Have You Heard From Johannesburg? It’s in eight parts (!), and today, comes this excellent episode:

FAIR PLAY (95 minutes)
An international sports boycott takes shape when African teams refuse to compete in the Olympics with South Africa’s all-white teams. Only SA’s world champion Springboks rugby team remains on the field.

Hope to see everyone there.

UPDATE: So, the episode described above was more about rugby than cricket, but it was still fascinating. What struck me was how much opposition proposed boycotts stirred — in tiny New Zealand, the documentary implies, the question nearly provoked a civil war (on many levels: some Maori groups, who take their rugby seriously, had no problem playing the South Africans; others, obviously, felt this was an ‘Uncle Tom’ stance). It then reverberated around the world. So, N.Z. allowed the Springboks to tour, which led African countries to boycott the Montreal Olympics in protest.

A crucial question is whether or not it was fair to express opposition to apartheid on the rugby players, some of who appear on-screen to say they had no political leanings one way or the other. And, really, looking at what these players faced — mass protests featuring sarcastic chants of ‘Sieg Heil’; unions that refused to fly them around countries, host them in hotels, or drive them to stadiums; game interruptions — well, it’s hard not to feel a tad sorry for them. On the other hand, South African apartheid apologists admit near the end of the episode that the boycott, as well as all the unrest it stirred elsewhere, forced white South Africans to squarely confront the nature of their regime.

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One thought on “The South Africa Sport Boycott

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