March 1st as Zero Discrimination Day goes back to a long history when different actions were taken against discrimination around the world. It signifies all people who experienced discrimination, be it due to gender, ethnicity, race, class, religion, or any other form of discrimination. As we collectively strive for a nondiscriminatory world we are encouraged by the enthusiasm for achieving zero discrimination.
Role Of Sports in Zero Discrimination
Sport played a pivotal role bringing together millions of people, regardless of their sex, color, gender, age, nationality or religion, and thus creating an inclusive society. Sports activities ranging from the local to the national and international level, embracing leisure as well as competitive sport, supported the integration of persons belonging to different minorities. In other words, engaging and participating in sport events paved an ideal platform to foster inclusion, acceptance of diversity and mutual respect while combating racism, discrimination and exclusion. Making it a perfect platform to advocate zero discrimination.
In the 20th century, in the USA, whites and blacks began to compete against each other in different sports. Before this everything was separated for different races. People were treated and distinguished based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belonged rather than on individual merit. The discrimination was based on religion, race, height, nationality, and even gender. These factors made most people make quick judgments. In early 90s a large number of black athletes were Olympic contenders providing a special opportunity in the area of sports thus paving path to a zero discrimination world of sports we live in now.
Combat Sports- A Wave of Change
Not to forget the agent of change that Mohammad Ali was when he became an instant superstar by beating Sonny Liston to claim the World Heavyweight Championship. It was sports that gave him the opportunity to voice his views for those marginalized on the basis of race and class. He was able to put boxing at the forefront of social and political causes. The hype he was able to create as a boxer helped him speak out on the issues that were important to push the society towards zero discrimination.
In the years to follow, many athletes came forward to speak out on the issues most important to them. There were times, they have been praised and criticized too but what they were able to achieve was a society which serves no discrimination to gender, class, race or religion. People now are more aware and sense their responsibility to tried to follow the path that is right. They believe that their duty is to use their power and profile to influence social issues.
What is true of sports is true in the society as well. You can have lots of racist people. You can have lots of individual acts of racial discrimination. But this won’t affect the society as a whole or men and women unless the society as a whole is discriminating.
World’s most challenging problems can be resolved simply by eliminating stigma and discrimination. We need to collectively strive for a fairer world. We can be encouraged by the enthusiasm for achieving zero discrimination.