Whatever happened to the sportsman spirit?
By : Saad Dosari
One of the theories trying to explain people’s attachment to sports stipulates that it brings out the primitive man in all of us. For a lot of supporters, it is not the game that is bounded by limited time and rules, but it is the feeling of belonging to a larger group, to the colors and chants of the team, it is the desire to win in the battle, to bash the opponent teams.
Honestly, it is hard to think of sports in this contest, especially when the marketed face of it revolves around health, tolerance, cooperation and honorable competition. But when it comes to reality, the “primitive man” theory starts to make a lot of sense; the local sports scene is an ample example.
Loving your team, hating your competitors, making fun of them, wishing them all kinds of catastrophes happens everywhere in the world. Humble win and honorable loss virtually do not exist in the world of sports these days; you are either a winner or a loser, that is what goes on the records and that is what fans remember. Nevertheless, when sports competition starts to touch boundaries with religion and national identity, then one should be alarmed. Something wrong is going on, really wrong!
What happened recently to one of our local clubs that were competing for the continent’s championship summarizes the whole issue; what preceded that final, from both the fans and competitors, crossed all boundaries of sportsmanship.
In a glimpse of an eye, the team was not going to play a football match, but it was going on a holy trip, doubt the team, and you would compromise your beliefs and put your national identity into question. Both the fans and competitors were engaged in a battle that was cheap, not related to the spirit of sports and provocative in every sense of the word.
The drama did not stop by the end of the game, the moment the referee announced the end of the game declaring the loss of the local team, the whole internet and social media platforms exploded with floods of messages ridiculing the local team and its fans and in a way, celebrating its loss.
On both accounts, from each party, it was an ugly scene to witness, to see how local sports has degraded to this low level of gloating, cheap competition.
Sadly, the aftermath of that game seems to dragging, casting its shadows on the national team. Somewhere along the way since the 80s and the 90s when the Saudi national team was bringing everyone together, we lost the compass, local teams became more important than the national one and the colors of local teams overshadowed the color of the flag.
There are two factors that played major role in bringing our sports scene to such an unhealthy level of “hooliganism.” Weak management and unprofessional sports media.
Everything in the local sports scene screams of a lack of vision and absence of long-term planning. The infrastructure is old, the clubs are burdened with debts, and all national teams in different sports are suffering from lack of talents and lack of preparations. There are no clear plans, performance indicators, strategies and visions.
As for the media, one only needs to know the right persons to appoint him as a sports columnist and in no time he will be invited to sports channels spewing your ill-based critiques on the public.
Now mix the above two factors and one would end up with sports reality engorged with hooliganism and weakness.
The way out is to reshuffle the sports administrators and planners in the country, evaluate their work and change whomsoever failing in his duties; it is a job, not a privilege. And in the media, select those who love the game, who educate and enlighten and ask those who are only looking for agitation and spotlights to step down and leave the scene, they had ruined it already.
Maybe then, our sports scene will get back to normal.