4 March, 2024


Cricket Field & Political Field – Anguish Sparks Violence?

By Michael Roberts

Dr. Michael Roberts

The recent outbursts of abuse and riotous act on the cricket grounds at Pallekele and Rangiri when our cricketers were defeated after some poor cricket are significant in the wider scheme of local culture and ethics. Such reactions reveal the reverberations that can be generated by a small body of extremists. It is ironic that some of these very same extremists, some among these abusive fans, would have been among those who indulged in effusive cheering an adulation of the cricket team when they triumphed.

That is a speculation on my part but a reasonable conjecture. As conjecture it is aimed at reflection. When the same individual can swing from one extreme to the other, what does it say. That phenomenon reveals an extremist par excellence, a dangerous bloke who swings from one pole to the opposite pole … one who cannot rest in the region of moderation in evaluation or action.

Speculatively, then, I ask: how do such personnel behave in the field of politics? Are they among the thugs who are spurred into action by political demagogues? Are they the spearheads of violence directed at an Ethnic Other for assumed slights or offences real or imagined? Are they the sort of personnel who buy into spurious rumours and take up cudgels by assailing and burning the supposed menace within their midst?

Were these the type of people, in this instance Sinhalese people, who attacked Tamils during the 1983 July pogrom? Were these among the Muslims and Sinhalese who assailed each other during the Aluthgama riots?

I note here that the violent voice and act around the cricket field was mostly male, though a sprinkling of female fans may have been part of the initial ‘voice’. However, in the wider arena of political stirring and rumour that sparks ethnic violence and pogrom, incendiary emotional female voices are often an integral element in the initial sparks. In the instance of the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 after Indira Gandhi was assassinated, the photographic evidence indicates that the anguish of women waiting outside Teen Murti hospital was among the factors promoting violent vengeance. (In 1995 I met a couple of the Indian cameramen who documented the riots).

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Latest comments

  • 0

    Michael Roberts
    European soccer hooliganism is well known. The hooligans go to matches just to give vent to their desire to vandalise. They are not soccer fans.
    On the other hand the recent outbursts of abuse and riotous act on the cricket grounds at Pallekele and Rangiri when our cricketers were defeated after some poor cricket are just a sign of frustration – the fans are sophisticated cricket followers.
    It is plain wrong to look for parallel between the 1983 pogrom and the unbecoming behaviour of the cricket fans.
    There are reasons to believe that the pogroms (the worst 1983) have had backing for high-ups. Those who did the actual massacres were criminals who got a kick – they probably did not know why they did what they did.
    At one stage there indeed was a campaign to bracket students on the wrong side of the language/religion divide as traitors who did not support the Lankan team. The silver lining is “This is no more”.
    So Michael, there is no significance in the wider scheme of local culture and ethics.
    By the way, the player morale is very low because of corrupt management. There is a strong case to change this. Arjuna is trying a comeback – he must be kept out.

  • 0

    The fault, dear Dr.Michael Roberts, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are Srilankans [underlings].
    Terrible DNA!

  • 0

    K P
    S L cricket fans are not sophisticated.They are as sophisticated as SL politicians.

  • 0

    The injustices under the Yahapalana government from Bond scam and other mega scams to selling of state properties for peanuts are beyond measure, the people of Sri Lanka are fed up but unbelievably and extremely patient. We shoud appreciate it. However, their patience has limits. What the cricket fans did at Rangiri and Pallekele is just the tip of the iceberg. And that’s what the so called international conspirators want them to continue into political arena too.
    Therefore, I would like to remind them to practice Buddha’s patience: it means unlimited patience, because there will be some kind of elections before or in 2019/2020 and be wise when you vote. And remember not to make the same mistake!

  • 0

    We have idiots in Sri lanka who want to tie the losses in the cricket field is connected to the leasing of Hambantota harbour who had only 40 ships in the last five years, including car careers diverted from Colombo. Next time they will utter that rains are failing due to the negligence of the government. Sadly this is Sri Lanka.

  • 1

    Dr Roberts has written well, but surely he knows his fellow country folk well.

    Let us admit it, we are a bloody excitable bloody lot. Whether conducting elections, boarding a bus, playing big-matches, or even celebrating with a social function, we like nothing better than letting off a bit of steam. Throwing a few bottles when we lose. Stoning some buggers house because he failed to take a catch. Burning a public library. Beating up the referee. A little arson downtown. You know….Cyril Mathew style, nothing is too much.

    The blooming British (God Bless them!) entrusted the sacred unwritten rules of the game to those who entered the portals of Respice Finem, Esto Perpetua, Ora et Labora, Scientia et Virtute, Disce aut discede, et al. They were never to know that we would cast them like pearls before our swine. Gone are the lofty orations about ‘when that greater scorer comes’…..and ‘playing the game’.

    Bob was right; the times they have been a long time changing.

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