Ultra-nationalism in sports: An unpopular opinion
Human civilizations have witnessed countless devastating wars and consequences due to them. Some civilizations even gone extinct due to the long lasting effects.
Generally, the two sides decide to seek solutions through weapons when the feeling of supremacy of their side takes toll on them as humanity becomes secondary. Every side in the war is fueled by the arrogance called ‘the ultra-nationalism ‘.
In its most devastating form, the ultra-nationalism resembles xenophobic eradication. The holocaust, both the world wars are the mere examples depicting the devastation the ultra-nationalism can cause.
Sports have always been affected by the political issues. The ‘do or die ‘ telegram of Benito Mussolini to Italian football players, Hitler’s influence in Berlin Olympics, boycotting of Olympics by the ‘capitalists ‘ and the ‘communists’ show sports was never away from the political influences. For the country like Nepal, which takes pride in its cultural and religious diversity, it is important to make sure its citizen don’t get influenced by ultra-nationalism.
We can only pave the way for the development of our sports if we maintain the unity in our society. The power struggle in recent years in the name of identity is nothing but toxic to our sports. Nepal can’t think of creating a team, descending of particular region, caste or creed. Similarly, the ultra-nationalist feeling is even more toxic for the long term visions.
The principles of sports like fraternity, unity, discipline are not taught anywhere in the world. Those are what we inherit from the society we live in. For the long term development of our sports, it is important to create optimistic and peaceful society for our young prodigy. Nobody expects Nelson Mandela to rise, if the society teaches that Osama was god.
The supporters, well-wishers, fans and enthusiasts are the ones who push the athletes to work harder today than yesterday. They act as the inspiration for the athletes. The best football teams on the planet have strong and passionate fan base. Ultra-nationalism and ultra-nationalist kill the passion of sports.
Who doesn’t feel sad when they hear the story of Andre Escobar? The one who defended the Colombian shirt was shot down by the fans for scoring an own goal at the world cup. For ultra-nationalist fans, passion, dedication, struggle and the 50/50 nature of sports don’t mean anything. The duel between two great cricketing nations, the perennial powerhouse of the gentleman’s game, India and Pakistan has always been fascinating to watch. Their world cups encounter is watched by millions throughout the globe. But some of the ultra-nationalists are calling their game in this summer’s world cup to be called off. That step may or may not help the cause of the two nations but it hampers cricket, sports.
The passionate fans are adored everywhere. Despite not being anyone’s cup of tea in Russia, Japan’s fan won the hearts of many people. The unity, passion and love Brazil’s football fan showed during their national anthem in their World Cup (2014) gave Goosebumps to the enthusiasts and sent shivers down the spine of the opponents. The Viking-clap of Icelandic fans after their team went home after achieving more than what they expected in 2018 made everyone proud. The electric crowd has that kind of vibe which can’t be explained.
I may be wrong but we are already in the direction of being ultra-nationalist. We are a sovereign nation. We have the flag to defend and we must be ready to die for our motherland but it doesn’t mean you wreak havoc inside your country. CK Raut’s political agenda was totally wrong but his rise to such figure was due to our ultra-nationalist feeling. How many of us can proudly say that we treat ‘ Madhesis’ as Nepali? Even if one rejects such claims, why an idea or issue of ‘Free Madhesh’ is a thing in Nepal even if you are in delusion that it doesn’t exist in our society. Not many knows Anil Mandal is a bonafide international ‘centurion ‘ but it won’t take a second to summon Sunil Chhetri’s name as ‘one of our own’, simply because, his mother once belonged to Jhapa. Chhetri has been leading the Blue Tigers (India) with pride and we feel that he belongs here.
“A Maithili or bhojpuri speaking Nepali is termed as Indian (Dhoti) but a Nepali speaking Indian (Sikkimese) is respected as a Nepali. I wonder what makes you a Nepali? Ur language? Ur loyalty? Ur Birth?? Do u have an answer? #help” tweeted Binod Das on his handle on April 11, 2019. A man who led the national cricket team for years before swiftly (at least, what we felt) turning into a coaching role for the national age-level and women cricket teams for several years now. For many Nepalis, hating India and stereotyping the one who live in Terai as Indians, gives a satisfaction of patriotism. Probably that is what we were taught and thought. Why someone like Das, who is a national treasure and icon seeks such answers on twitter.
Our political differences between India must not affect our sports. England has been helping Scotland, South Africa has been assisting Namibia, Australia has been helping PNG, USA is assisted by West Indies for the development of cricket. Our ultra-nationalist feeling in the sports circle repels the Indian help. There is very huge line between seeking for help and being minions. Rahul Dravid’s self-visit to Nepal’s dressing room in U-19 cricket world cup in Bangladesh suggests India, the country with the most powerful cricket board, is willing to assist Nepal, the country with the suspended board, without thwarting lackey as many of us assume, only if we make proper initiations.
We have our own pride and nationality. We must have the roar of Bhakti Thapa and the bravery of Balbhadra Kunwar but it doesn’t mean our ego should stop us from achieving what we can. There is very fine but absolutely visible line between patriotism and egoism. We, the cricket fans, would be the one to curse India, if one day Namibia or USA reach the level our cricket has never reached before. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s not talk about other countries but sports in Nepal should be free from any of the political history.
Yeah, the Sugauli Treaty, the Mohan Shumsher signed treaty, the blockades have been the attempts against our dignity but let’s not forget it is on our hands whether we want to build foundations by the stones thrown at us or keep the ultra-nationalist, xenophobic, egoist feeling in our head and keep drifting away.