Since I’ve realised that I’m an anarchist, I’ve become less of a fan of professional sport.
However, I don’t deny the fact that sport can be used as a tool for good.
Let’s take the ’95 rugby world cup in South Africa as an example
I wonder how much of the inter-racial love back then was sincere love for our brothers and sisters of other races.
A part of me suspects that some of it was just another example of group hysteria.
But that’s another argument for another day.
I was only six years old when the Springboks won that World Cup but I still remember the day like it was yesterday.
Even at that young age, I was already full of idealism. As I tweeted a few days ago, I think “World in Union” by Ladysmith Black Mambazo and PJ Powers will give me goose bumps until the day I die.
My parents organised for a group of friends to come and watch the final against the All Blacks at our house in Gholfsig, Middelburg.
As I recall, my friends and I didn’t watch much of the game. We were too busy playing rugby.
Despite this, I could swear I had a sense of the significance of the moment. I also felt an immense sense of pride about the fact that I’m South African.
I was one of the lucky white South African kids. My Mom was a Christian and my parents had both lived in conservative Middelburg for a number of years. However, despite these setbacks, they did not poison me with race-based hate. For this, I am eternally grateful to them.
Like many kids, I worshipped sport at that young age. I had massive posters of Chester Williams and Jonty Rhodes above my bed. They truly were my heroes. When I was fortunate enough to meet Jonty as a laaitie, I was too flabbergasted to even speak.
I’ll never forget how great he was to me.
But sport has changed since those days. It’s becoming more and more about the money. People’s involvement for the pure love of the game is dwindling.
Think about this: the Springboks of a few decades ago were paid with a steak and a beer after the game. From what I’ve been told, many of them still had day jobs.
Furthermore, I think in the current state of modern alienation/postmodernism or whatever you want to call it, some people use sport as a distraction from real issues.
I have great pity for the man who spends the entire day at work and then spends his “free time” watching men run around a field on TV.
I would much rather he:
a) Took the bull by the horns and went and ran around a field with his real friends
b) Questioned the fact that his life had been sucked away by “civilisation” and the quest for more paper (money).
Having said this, there are still things we can learn from professional sport. I realised this once again when I watched Floyd Mayweather fight Victor Ortiz just over a week ago.
As you may know, I was a boxing fanatic when I was in high school (1)
However, once I realised what a joke civilisation is I stopped watching sport. (2)
Despite this fact, I have always admired Floyd as an insanely talented and underrated fighter. I reckon he’s more gifted than Ali was. Yes, I did just say that. I wish Mayweather would use his talent for a decent cause though.
I think one of the reasons why Mayweather is underrated by some media is because he’s a bit of an arsehole. Mainstream media will probably never idolise people whom they perceive to be arseholes.
I saw a video of him burning money at a club a couple of hours before the fight. Call me a bleeding heart, but burning money while kids starve is a dick move.
It was after seeing Floyd’s idiocy that I began gunning for Ortiz.
I realised later, however, that a lot of this pre-match hype is staged. Promoters and fighters know that we, the public, tend to be attracted to controversy. Therefore, they create a lot of tension between the fighters prior to the bout.
So in the one corner we had Mayweather - an arrogant and selfish money-worshipper who didn’t give a fuck about anyone’s feelings.
In the other corner we had Ortiz - a tough-as-nails Mexican-American who had been abandoned by his parents but somehow still can see goodness in the world.
I should mention that Mayweather’s life has been no picnic either. But Mayweather wasn’t focused on the past.
He wanted to make paper and pursue the mythical “American Dream”. Idiot.
So by the time the fight started I was highly excited.
I wanted to support Mayweather because I know how great he is. On the other hand, I wanted to see Ortiz give the arrogant arsehole a pounding.
The promoters certainly did a good job of stealing my interest.
The fight began and I was impressed.
Mayweather was a pleasure to watch, although not quite as slick as usual. Perhaps his slower-than-usual reaction time had something to do with ring rust.
Ortiz fights with intensity. He certainly wasn’t going to let Floyd walk all over him.
Floyd sometimes uses dirty tactics to his advantage. For this reason, the naïve middle class members of society will probably always dislike him.
Some of the pre-fight footage showed Ortiz’ camp watching tapes of Mayweather's previous fights. Ortiz’ trainers picked up on the fact that Mayweather sometimes uses his elbows when his opponent is close to him.
Ortiz trainers noticed this dirtiness.
Presumably, Ortiz prepared for the possibility that Floyd would use dirty tactics.
Here’s comes the interesting part…
At some point during the fourth round Mayweather did use his elbow to whack Ortiz in the face.
Ortiz reacted by intentionally head-butting Mayweather in the mouth.
Ortiz denied the butt was intentional after the fight, but I think we all know that’s bullshit.
Having said this, I understand why he felt the need to head-butt Mayweather.
Ortiz isn’t stupid.
He knew he would have to neutralise Mayweather’s dirty tactics somehow. He couldn’t rely on the umpire to do this because Floyd is street smart enough to be dirty in a subtle way.
Because Ortiz has had a tough life, he knows that he can’t rely on “authorities” to do things for him.
No offense to my race, but a middle class liberal white guy would have probably gone crying to the referee if Floyd had used his elbow.
This is what anarchism is all about. We realise that crying to “authorities” sometimes doesn’t help. The authorities are there to protect their jobs and their own interests. They aren’t necessarily there because they give a shit about your wellbeing. Just ask any South African who’s ever been intimidated or ignored by police.
Ask Andries Tatane. No, wait. Andries Tatane was murdered by police. Many police (unfortunately) exist to protect the state, not you. (2)
On a much smaller scale, I have even been a victim of police intimidation and apathy on many occasions. (4)
It’s unfortunate that liberals/pacifists have such a hard time wrapping their heads around this fact. There’s a simple reason for this: A lot of us don’t truly know what it means to be oppressed.
I love the irony in pacifism.
As Derrick Jensen says, “You haven’t lived until you’ve been chased down the street by a bunch of pacifists”.
Anyway, Judge Joe Cortez immediately stopped the action after Ortiz had head-butted Mayweather. Ortiz immediately apologised and hugged Mayweather.
Mayweather was pissed off, understandably, but appeared to kind of accept Ortiz’ apology.
After Cortez had deducted a point for the butt, the action got underway again.
But Ortiz wanted to apologise again.
Mayweather “accepted” the apology and hugged Ortiz back. As soon as they parted, Mayweather smacked Ortiz with a left and a right. And that was “all she wrote”. (3)
The look of shock and horror on Joe Cortez’ face on the replay is hilarious.
Yup, neither Cortez nor Ortiz was smart enough to see Floyd’s punch coming.
However, anyone who knows anything about boxing knows that the sacred rule is: “protect yourself at all times”.
It was incredibly naïve of Ortiz to think that Floyd actually gave a shit about his apology.
Yes, there are cases where you can display love and sportsmanship in the ring, but this wasn’t one of them.
My life has been a breeze compared to that of Ortiz and even I would never have been stupid enough to let my guard down in the ring with someone like Floyd.
What can we learn from this?
Quite a lot, actually. But here are the obvious lessons:
1) Always keep your guard up.
2) Do not believe everything people say or do.
I really admire Ortiz for being such a good guy despite everything he’s been through. His good nature is an example to all of us. It’s really cool that someone with his background can still believe in human goodness.
However, Mayweather did Ortiz a favour by knocking him out. Ortiz is still young with a good career ahead of him.
From this fight I’m sure Ortiz has learnt to never let his guard down when he’s up against someone as powerful as Floyd.
We, as anarchists, should also learn this lesson.
And that’s all she wrote.
(1) The Joys of Being a Multilingual Whitey in South Africa, Mark Esterhuysen markesterhuysen.blogspot.com
(2) “Deep Green Resistance” from a South African perspective, Mark Esterhuysen, markesterhuysen.blogspot.com
(3) This is how Floyd described the knockout while reviewing the tape. You might want to watch this interview on YouTube. It’s hilariously cool.