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Basketball England and its menacing take a knee “opportunity” for 13 year olds

Tom Winnifrith
Monday 19 October 2020

With a wife who is a person of colour and a mixed race son I do not need to be told that Black Lives Matter. Of course they do and anyone who disagrees is a bloody numbskull.  But does that necessarily mean that one must support the “Black Lives Matter movement”?

For that movement is lead by organisations that are committed to matters such as defunding the police, ending capitalism, closing jails and a boycott of Israel. As it happens, I disagree violently with those objectives as does my wife and, as polls show, a majority of folks of colour. And as such, I cannot say that I would offer an unqualified support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Do you?

I say that as an adult. Would a 13 year old me be able to say that?  And would a 13 year old be able to explain that in a closed room with no crowd but where he or she was about to play a physical sport where a large number of players are from the BAME community and some of whom may take a different view?

Well this is not hypothetical. Basketball England last week sent out an email saying that for all National League games this season (which start with U14s):

Basketball England will give clubs the opportunity to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement and oppose racism when the 2020/21 season starts.

Teams will be encouraged to ‘take a knee’ just prior to tip-offs throughout the season to show solidarity against discrimination in the wake of worldwide anti-racism protests this year.


Do you think 13 years olds might in such a situation be able to explain why they might not want to take up “the opportunity”? And how might some players who do take a knee react to those who do not? Might they perceive that as support for racism? Who knows.

But to be offering this “opportunity” to act in one way and a way that Basketball England actively encourages to girls and boys as young as 13 is the ort of Orwellian behaviour one associates with East Germany in the 1970s.  Who will be brave enough to resist showing unqualified support for Big Brother and all that he believes in?

It appears that a number of parents have objected for the reasons outlined above and Basketball England is now said to be reconsidering. It bloody well ought to. And I hope more parents contact their clubs to explain why this is so utterly wrong.

Children should not be forced into making overtly political statements. You’d have to be a total hero not to take a knee ahead of a game where, thanks to Covid, you will have no parental support. So this is outright coercion.  It is truly shameful.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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