The Badger 16-04-2013

The Badger gets serious about the far-reaching effects of sportOne of the biggest criticisms people make of Formula One racing, besides it being completely inaccessible to those without money and totally illegal to play with your friends on your road, is the way in which the heads of the sport aren’t interested in anything but money.There has been a hugely vocal opposition to the Bahrain grand-prix, but Bernie Ecclestone and co. don’t seem to see the issue people have with a few minor human rights abuses. There is no way that by bringing Formula One to Bahrain, they are implicitly supporting those in power, right?The Badger rather enjoys any opportunity to get high and mighty about pretty much anything, but this is one of those situations where even The Badger feels a little uncomfortable. This isn’t a case of being right or wrong about someone taking some drugs, this is a clear cut example of how sport can do real harm to people’s livelihoods.But of course we see this in a sport so elitist and out of touch with the average person as Formula One. You’d never see this in football. Everyone knows that the beautiful game transcends these silly things we call “human rights” and unites people no matter what. Except that it doesn’t.Over the weekend, Manchester United announced their plans to push ahead with a training complex in Bahrain for young players. For some context on this decision, this is the same country in which a woman was tortured by police for requesting that Manchester United hold a minute’s silence at the start of one of their matches.What was the minute’s silence for? Nothing major, just in memory of a 15 year-old boy who was wearing a Manchester United jersey when he was shot dead by Bahrain police during the violent uprising of 2011.Dr Fatima Haji, who recently had her five year prison sentence for treating injured rebels overturned, requested that the club honour Ahmad Shams before one of their matches. She then deleted the email. When police took her computer, a reply from the club’s press office was enough for them to interrogate her, demanding to know what her connection to the club was.The Badger strongly believes that sport is an incredibly important part of our world, and that it has power to effect a real change. The Badger remembers a time when all the major nations in the world boycotted South Africa’s sports teams because of apartheid.It’s something that’s worth considering. As sport becomes more commercialised and the higher ups become further removed from the fans, we need to be aware of the negative consequences our passivism can have. At the very least, it’s another reason to hate Manchester United.