History and its racial legacies: quotas in South African rugby and cricket

Taylor and Francis
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Sport in Society, 2011, 14 (6), pp. 754 - 777
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South African identity has always been shaped by racial quotas; that is, divisions, assignments, allowances and allocations based on socially created ideas of race and difference. Both law and custom assigned a hierarchy which separated the rulers from the ruled, and allocated and rationed goods, services and enjoyments in all spheres of life, including sport. `Superior whites were layered above the Cape coloured people, followed by the Indian community and, lastly, the Africans, the black majority. This article looks briefly at the historical context of racial divisions and, with the downfall of apartheid, the rhetoric of an avowedly de-racialized `new South Africa. Given the chronic history of negative discrimination, it is understandable that affirmative action has become a major policy framework in the building of a post-apartheid society. But sport is a sobering example of how a domain can be `re-racialized in this quest. How does the African National Congress justify the (re)introduction into sport of a proportional or numerical quota system based on racial categories? Is there a need for demographic representativeness in white-dominated sports like cricket and rugby, but seemingly not in black-dominated soccer? Is an arithmetic quota system not merely a logical extension of the reviled racial genres and divides of previous centuries?
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