Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Whether the 2003 Cricket World Cup should be played in Zimbabwe has been a subject of much debate in recent weeks. A somewhat belated debate since the situation (although ever worsening) has been pretty bad in Zimbabwe for at least the last 3 years and these games have been scheduled for nearly as long. I see now that even the Zimbabwe players are reluctant to play (morally). So should the games take place. Of course. Two arguments really. One is the simple promise keeping argument that the South African bid proposal included a commitment to "take the game to Africa" which logically included the promise that both Zimbabwe and Kenya should host matches.

Arguments contending that by playing these matches one would be endorsing the Mugabe regime do not hold water with me. A far larger statement could be made by a player emphatically refusing to shake his host's (Mugabe's) hand on the field or wearing a black armband r some other gesture that would be televised to a worldwide television audience.

The biggest (immediate) problem in Zimbabwe is lack of food and if not playing in Zimbabwe would resolve this I would consider that sport should never be played again in that country until the Zimbabwe nation is as well fed as the United States. Making a stand to boycott playing the world cup matches will not fill stomachs. One may argue that the small revenue (and retinue of tourists) that that the games will bring in may, in fact, do more to improve the lot of Zimbabwe's ordinary citizens than it would harm them. Even in the long run. In the long run, as the economists say, (and in this case this is sadly not entirely tongue-in cheek) we are all dead.

Cricket can give Mugabe a more effective and visible "two fingers" from right under his nose by playing matches in his country than by orchestrating a boycott from afar that will merely fuel his anti-colonial rhetoric and probably steel his insane resolve even further. Damn it, just play the game.

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