Opinion

Sport for a better world post-COVID-19

(Clockwise from top-left) Patty Mills, Haneen Zreika, Caleb Ewan, Meg Lanning, Heming Hu, Madison de Rozario, Majok Deng, Lydia Williams. Source: SBS

Craig Foster explains how Sport can play its part in building a better world, post-COVID-19.

COVID-19 is an opportunity for us all, in Australia and around the world, to carry forward a renewed spirit of shared humanity and an understanding of the similarities that unite us.

And while the very substance and structures of society have been challenged and may well have changed forever, it is in coming together that we manifested the values of community, saw the human spirit soar and realised when our social connections were most under threat how much we need them to survive. Both as individuals, and a species.

Long undervalued words like love and compassion, empathy and care experienced a glorious renaissance and emerged as founding principles to be inserted into every aspect of an emergent life and not least as protection against future pandemics, or indeed the evolving nature of COVID-19.

Let us nourish these precious shoots that carry such promise of a better world.

And powerful movements around the world for equality of all, whether #BlackLivesMatter or #IndigenousLivesMatter galvanised millions of people to raise a fist, or take a knee in support of other human beings denied the same rights. 

As many have pointed out, whilst we first thought 2020 was little more than a tragedy of fire and viral destruction, the lessons we’ve learnt and global unity we’ve witnessed makes 2020 a mix of heartache, and revelations.

But although beautiful to witness, there’s been a darker side of growing racism, of leaving vulnerable communities behind that we can’t disregard. Silence is violence, as we’ve come to learn.

After decades of celebrating what we consider one of the most harmonious, multicultural experiments in human history that grows in its diversity every day, we have seen that all are not, truly equal. Including our indigenous sisters and brothers.

And if we didn’t know before, it’s clear that we must each do more, be more, for all to thrive.

In the face of an existential threat, difference has dissolved and we understand that nothing should keep us from genuine equality. Not colour or race, language or religion.

We’ve seen slogans of togetherness trending in Australia, and across the world and we’ve resolved that the new world must be much more than a hashtag, it must be real.

‘We’re all in this together’ has been the cry. But, are we? Only you can answer this question. And I. Because the answer lies in how we act, and what we do and say, every day.

The critical question if we wish to be better, though, is what does this new world look like? It'll take courage from us all to build on what we've glimpsed in recent months because real change takes time, it takes resilience and it takes courage.

The great test COVID-19 posed to humanity is to become one community, one country, one world, as the virus has taught us that we are all, truly, the same.

Our futures are bound, between people, and countries. If one nation is not safe from COVID-19, we are all unsafe. If one person fails to think of others, we are all at risk.

If one person lacks adequate medical care, their pain will be our pain. But shouldn’t it always have been?

Will this be the end game of COVID-19? Will it truly make us better, together, more connected to, and considerate of others?

Sport has also made its voice heard, as athletes around the world raise their fists in support of equality and justice because sport teaches us that those we play with, and against, are equal. Different colours, genders, names and language, but just the same.

It doesn’t matter who you are, only how you play. That’s the perfect metaphor for a new world. How society can be. Blind to difference, equal for all.

This is why we have assembled a diverse range of professional athletes across the social spectrum to raise their voices for unity.

Not only to use their global platforms for good, but to inspire the next generation of athletes and participants of sport to do likewise.

To raise their voices for equality, non-discrimination, social cohesion and a future where we are all the same.

They are a formidable team of brilliance, diversity and colour, in all its beauty across gender, ability, age, colour, race, ethnicity and religion.

That is the Australia and world that we want to see.. one people, built on hundreds of extraordinary cultures.

All of us, together. United in a new world. Equal.

And all on #OneTeam.