An article from the Dominion Post came out today with that famous pantyhose wearing rugby player, Alan Hewson, saying that the 1981 Springbok Tour should not have happened. I disagree.
Alan Hewson says he now is thirty years older that "
I understand the sentiment that comes with the idea that we should not have been a part of the racist regime that ruled South Africa for so long, and with the idea that as a young man you may not make the best decisions, but with 30 years hindsight you could also come to another conclusion.
The protests of that 1981 tour did something to the atmosphere of racism in South Africa, it shone a light on it like never before, it brought to the world a new, ugly understanding, of what some people thought of the apartheid movement. Without the tour that never would have happened, without the tour apartheid may have lasted another 6 months?..6years?..60 years? Well it is fairly arrogant to make the argument that the protests against the tour were the reason for the downfall of apartheid...but there did something to its inevitable decline.
To the people in South Africa who were fighting the system the protests were an inspiration, a shot in the arm to help them continue the fight for their cause. In 1995 Nelson Mandela was in NZ and said in 1981 when he heard of the protests that “the sun shone into the dark cells of Robin Island and transformed the oppressive Soweto dungeons of despair into beacons of hope.” Without the tour this would not have happened. Each one of those protesters should be proud that they brought hope to this man, and his fellow oppressed.
There's an old saying that all things can be used for good...I dunno if I'd go that far, but my hindsight of 30 years says that Nelson Mandela needed that tour, South Africa needed that tour, the world needed that tour to shine a light as bright as the sun on the evil nature of how South Africa was run.
Hindsight brings perspective. If you want an example of what I mean watch the movie Invictus, starring Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman. It's the story of the 1995 Rugby World Cup, and whilst there is no 'Suzie', and plenty of Hollywood schmaltz, the basic story is that South Africa needed to win that World Cup to help unite the country. With hindsight, and that knowledge, I don't mind that SA beat us in the final.
Here's a clip...
If Alan Hewson was to ever read this I would say to him that he was an unknowing, unwitting pawn in one of the most important sporting events in recent history that made a tangible difference to the lives of millions of blacks in South Africa, and whilst I agree that Sports and Politics are intrinsically intertwined, with hindsight this is one of the times it worked for good