Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It's not OK!

We don't like racism one little bit. And we're angry about events that have come to a head today at a Blues media conference; Stuff reports:

An emotional Pat Lam has hit out at racial criticism being fired about as a reason for the failings of his Blues team.
The racial theories of a Blues squad coached by a Samoan and containing many Polynesian players have started to invade internet message boards and talkback radio as the team struggles with five losses and just one win in Super Rugby.
Lam twice broke down fighting back tears as he tried to explain his anger at that to a large throng of media in Auckland today.
He made it clear he and his players were happy to have criticism thrown at them for their sloppy start to the season but there was no place for the racial undertones.
"It's sad really, it really is," he said as he named his team to play the Sharks in Auckland on Friday night.
"We totally accept the criticism that we get when we don't perform. But it's the racist people ... the social media and talkback where people say things that are pretty offensive.
"The question about the racial stuff is what I'm upset about.
"It's just sad that we live in a country that has that but it's just a minority and I know that."
Lam said he could take the criticism but wasn't prepared to have it affect his family, particularly his parents who "sacrificed themselves for us to come here and have a good life".
"It's different when it's a racial thing. The emotion is about my parents," he said, stepping back to gather himself.
"For me it's a job. I'm enjoying the job and I enjoy the fact that as a team we come together and are working hard to get out of this adversity.
"When I think about my parents and the tough times they went through to be the people they are ... that's what I am, that's what I'm working to do with this team." 

To put it simply, this sucks. Racism is never OK. And Pat Lam's ethnicity has nothing to do with the lack of success of his team this season.

We've met Pat Lam, and he is straight-up, articulate, and passionate about what he does. He is a far, far better man than the anonymous cowards using snide comments and innuendo to undermine him. That he got emotional today is hardly surprising in the circumstances, but we're sure that his critics will use it against him, suggesting that it's a sign of weakness on Lam's behalf. 

The Pasifika influence in New Zealand rugby has grown since Bryan Williams burst onto the scene on the 1970 tour to South Africa. Since then, players from Samoa, Tonga and Fiji have become part of the fabric of our national game. Rugby would be a lot less entertaining without the likes of Williams, Bunce, Little, Umaga, the Bachop brothers, Lomu, Jones, Muliaina and many others.

By all means Lam is open for criticism over the under-performance of the Blues this season and in the other years where he has been in charge. He is a professional coach, and is accountable for the results of his team. And the team's results so far this season have been way below par.

But leave out the petty, nasty stuff; there is no place for it in 2012 New Zealand. Those who are disappointed with the performance of the Blues this season should play the ball, and not the man.

And we'll say it again; racism is never OK; never, ever.


Robert Winter said...


Alex said...

Completely agree that racist criticisms of the Blues are unwarranted and disgusting. There is a small segment of the sporting public which holds deeply stereotyped views of Polynesians, and these views need to be addressed at every level of our national game.

Anonymous said...

really agree i mean we have past that already why keep going on it again try to keep peace with ourselfs and with people
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James Stephenson said...

So when does discussing obvious difference between racial backgrounds become "racism"?

Black athletes have genetic advantages over white in speed and power events - fact. We can see that just looking at olympic 100m finals over the last few decades.

Polynesian kids are bigger, stronger and faster than their white peers - fact (ask any white mum that's taken her boy off to the local soccer club in preference to playing rugby).

I think it's also a fact that, under pressure, all players revert to their core strengths.

Am I therefore "racist" to suggest that there's a correlation between players who learn the game at a time when they have distinct size, speed and power advantages and a tendency to fall back on those attributes as an adult professional?

baxter said...

As a player LAM was always a credit to the game and a fine role model to any other player irrespective of race.