In the wake of an underwhelming summer of cricket in which the Australians lost a home series to the depleted Indian squad, Australia’s governing body for cricket has identified where it’s priorities lie: joining the campaign to abolish Australia Day.
The pool of batsmen proved to be without depth, while the bowling line-up was inconsistent at best. The captaincy of the test team is under renewed pressure, with captain Tim Paine’s middling batting form managing to outshine his wicketkeeping and tactical output.
Losing a home series against an old rival should be a wake-up call for cricketing administrators. But this didn’t stop Cricket Australia from making a decision to agonise over what kind of role it will play in dividing Australians. To this end it decided that it would refer to the three game Big Bash extravaganza as taking place on “January 26” and would remove any references to “Australia Day”. It justified the change in the interests of promoting “inclusivity”.
There is nothing quite as inclusive as excluding the overwhelming majority who are not ashamed to be Australian and have no problem celebrating it on Australia Day.
Polling commissioned by the Institute of Public Affairs and conducted by Dynata annually since 2017 has consistently found that only about one in ten Australians think the day of Australia Day should be changed. The most recent survey published by the IPA this week found 82 per cent were ‘proud to be Australian’ and only five per cent disagreed.
This isn’t surprising to mainstream people who experience Australia Day as an opportunity to come together with their fellow countrymen and celebrate the things that make Australia great. But if you are a bureaucrat who spends more time in boardrooms negotiating sponsorship deals with multi-national corporates or broadcasting deals with media conglomerates you may not be completely in touch with mainstream Australian attitudes.
Sports administrators are custodians of an important and valuable Australian asset. The exhibition of man’s competitive spirit in honourable and honest contest is a celebration of human excellence. These values are universal, making sport a source of commonality that crosses racial lines.
But modern administrators have institutionalised political grandstanding and moralising to spectators as a feature of the games they manage. In our footy codes last year, NFL and AFL players were given permission and encouragement to participate in ritualistic pre-game kneeling in support of the far-left international political movement, Black Lives Matter, while the League’s themselves have both given longstanding support to the campaign to divide Australian by race through ‘constitutional recognition’ of indigenous Australians.
Rugby Australia terminated the playing contract of star player Israel Folau in 2019 for making comments on social media which reflected his personal religious views. Rugby Australia CEO reportedly said that she would have terminated Folau’s contract if he had only “photocopied Bible passages” and posted them on social media.
Australians have had a gutful of our favourite past-times being used as a vehicle to promote the narrow ideological obsessions of arrogant sports bureaucrats. Polling commissioned by the Institute of Public Affairs in December 2019 asked Australians how they felt about this. 51 per cent of respondents agreed with the statement that sporting codes “have become too politically correct,” and only 11 per cent disagreed.
Cricket Australia is not representing the widely held views of the community. The people who are administering the game of cricket in Australia and the people who enjoy playing and watching it are completely disconnected. It is a reflection of the broader disconnect between the elites and mainstream seen throughout society.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s underwhelming comment that the decision was “pretty ordinary” indicated that the federal government would not raise any real opposition to what Cricket Australia is doing. But this is a mistake – Cricket Australia’s decision cannot be condoned from an organisation that purports to send teams around the world to represent Australia and use the national coat of arms on the baggy green caps.
Cricket is a part of the cultural fabric that ties all Australians together, but woke bureaucrats more afraid of angering unemployable activists on Twitter than of winning international cricket matches are abusing their position to divide us further.
Morgan Begg is a research fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs. Join as a member at www.ipa.org.au.
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