Sport Essay, Research Paper
Mr President, Mrs Hummel, Mrs Green, Ladies and Gentlemen
By 2010 one in every two 15 year old South Africans will be HIV positive?
An alarming fact, which will have devastating impacts on all aspects of South African life.
The statistics for HIV in SA, no matter how they are presented are frightening. Currently in SA 4,2 Million people are HIV positive, that is a tenth of our population, more than any other country in the world. As AIDS is a very contentious issue at the moment in our country. I am sure you have all heard plenty on the topic of AIDS. So I am focusing my speech this evening on a different aspect on AIDS, but one that is very important, that of the effects of AIDS on Sport in South Africa, now and in the future
We are a country very passionate about sport, and AIDS will greatly effect our sport, and will raise many a question, such as, What are the risks of blood-to-blood contraction? Are our Sporting first aid facilities adequate? And what actions have and will be taken by Sporting governing bodies such as SARFU?
2000 was a bad year for sport in SA in general, The Hansie Cronje scandal, a failed world cup soccer bid, disappointing Springbok performances, the sacking of Nick Mallet and to cap it all off, A Gold-less Sydney Olympic Games. Can you imagine in 10 years time, when only half our 15 year olds can play sport? imagine a half strength springbok team taking on the might of an all black side, or a half strength cricket team, battling it out at the world cup, with the likes of Australia.
At the moment SA is one of the superpowers of African and World sport, containing many key components to ensure lasting successes on the sports fields of the world. Our population is large and diverse enough to ensure large numbers of elite sportsmen and women proceed through the ranks, to superstar status. Our wonderful climate allows for all-year round participation. All these ingredients have allowed SA to achieve sporting excellence, and the potential for even greater things is huge. Yet the threat posed by AIDS is a formidable obstacle in the development of SA sport and will surely hinder the progress.
It is estimated that by 2010, the life expectancy of South Africans will have dropped to a mere 40 years. This not only means less doctors, lawyers and teachers, but also a decline in sportsmen and women, sports psychologists, nutritionists and administrators. And without this support group, sport in this country cannot grow and will falter.
Still the greatest worry is the rate of infection amongst young people, the future of South African sport; this will have disastrous effects right through the ranks of our sport from junior level, right through to the senior national teams. Universities and other tertiary institutions have been the feeding grounds of many a provincial union, and the amount of students infected with AIDS, and the high rate of transmission amongst university students, is very worrying indeed.
Another contentious issue will be that of the risks of blood-to-blood contraction in sport. But the risks of this happening are very minimal, in fact you are more likely to win the lottery, or die on the roads then contract the virus while playing sport.
The risks do increase in contact sports though, such as rugby, boxing and other combat sports. A study undertaken by the Sports Science Institute shows that the risk of a South African boxer contracting AIDS while fighting, are once in every 4760 fights, and these risks become even greater in the small township gyms, were boxing is extremely popular, but the facilities are shocking.
For example many of the boxers share mouthguards, without washing them out correctly, this obviously puts them at great danger.
Legal and moral arguments will always pop up, whilst dealing with a sensitive subject such as AIDS, when a professional sports star signs a contract with a union or a club, they have to undergo a medical exam, legally they cannot be tested for HIV, as it is discriminative. But in the multi-billion dollar industry of sport today, the stars are the clubs assets, and surely they need to protect them.
To practice as a surgeon or dentist one cannot by law, be HIV positive, but surely you couldn?t stop someone playing sport because they are HIV positive. But what about his or her opponents and team-mates, surely they deserve the right to know the risks they are taking.
AIDS is a major problem, and there is a serious need for all sporting bodies to take actions in tackling the problem posed by it. They must educate at grassroots level to ensure a healthy future for South African sport.
Sport is remarkable; it has the ability to break all barriers, social, economical and racial, it brings people from all walks of life together, united for a cause. Be it for the local cricket team, or cheering on the Springboks as they take on the worlds best. Sport is an ideal vehicle to bring about social change, to educate the people on AIDS.
Sport is an integral part of life for all South Africans and we must use its great influence to eliminate AIDS before AIDS eliminates South African sport.