Sunday Thoughts: The Week In Sports
Nicklaus Kruger 31 January 2021
It’s only been a month – but 2021 isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
So there’s load shedding and vaccines and variants and corruption investigations and schools aren’t starting yet obviously and booze is still banned and…
Look, it’s a lot to keep up with.
That’s why every week, we like to round up some of the most interesting sports writings out there – so you don’t have to.
So here’s what’s been going down in the last seven days….
Sun Met: Horses For Courses
Well, it’s summer – and that means one thing. No, not lazy afternoons at the beach – we’re in lockdown, you know (looking at you here, Cape Town). No, it means it’s time for the Sun Met, Cape Town’s biggest derby. It’s normally one of the highlights of the social calendar, with crowds of fancy folks dressed to impress (there’s a reason it’s known as Africa’s Richest Race Day) – but yeah, things were obviously a little bit different when the race went down this time (on Saturday 30 January 2021).
Still, it’s a big deal for SA’s struggling equine industries, and it’s nice to see horses get out there and do what they do best (even with the tiny passengers on their backs). By now you’ve already placed your bets on the Class of 2021, (probably on the favoured contender, Belgarion) and you’ve already won or lost. But it’s all in how you play the game, right? And if you missed it – well, there are plenty of horses on plenty of courses…so here are some of the world’s biggest races. You probably won’t be able to check them out in person…but enjoy (safely).
Football: Racism And Revolutionaries
Okay, so let’s see – it’s 2021, and we’ve seen racism in golf, racism in cricket, and oh yeah, racism in the streets of America. Feels like we’re missing racism somewhere…but where? Ah, yes: football, of course! England’s Premier League has urged social media organisations to do more to combat racism following online abuse directed at the Manchester United duo of Axel Tuanzebe and Anthony Martial and West Brom’s Romaine Sawyers this week. And Chelsea say they are “disgusted” after right-back Reece James was racially abused on social media as well. So the Premier League is urging social media firms to clamp down on racist abuse. If only. And speaking of social media – SA’s Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates battled it out in the 99th Soweto Derby, one of the biggest matches on the African continent in which the Buccaneers emerged as 2-1 winners – but they’re also battling for top honours in the social media stakes.
And in more awesome news, Banyana Banyana star Linda Motlhalo is the latest South African footballer to make headlines in Europe, having just been unveiled as the Djurgardens IF’s Newcomer of the Year. She’s joined no less than 14 national women’s stars who ply their trade globally. Good job, ladies.
COVID Compliance: Tennis Players Gone Wild
So here’s the thing about COVID-19: it spreads through people. And here’s the thing about sports: they’re all about people. So the pandemic has forced a lot of changes to the way sports are run around the world – mostly with an eye to making things as safe as possible. February’s Australian Open will see up to 30,000 tennis fans allowed in a day. So after two weeks of quarantine ahead of the tournament for over 1000 players, coaches and officials, it’s not surprising they celebrated their newfound freedom with trips to the park, the zoo and more. But look, lockdown is hard for everybody, whether you’re a tennis champ or just like to hit some balls around for the local league (and yes, the pandemic is ruining your body). Wimbledon, US Open and Olympic Tennis champion Andy Murray, knows how you feel – and he has some advice on how to stay tennis fit during lockdown. Good luck. Oh, and speaking of corona-related cancellations…World Athletics is confident the Tokyo Olympics will go ahead (depending on vaccine roll-out, according to Bill Gates, that guy who allegedly wants to put a tracker in you even though you’re almost certainly reading this on a device that already tracks you anyway).
Rugby News: Bulls Beat Sharks (In Rugby, We Mean)
Ah, the Currie Cup. South Africa’s premier provincial rugby competition, and the oldest in all the land (and one of the oldest in the world, actually). It’s kind of a big deal – and with COVID-19 giving the 2020/2021 Cup a late start, a combined Currie Cup and domestic Super Rugby Unlocked tournament was created for the seven Premier Division teams.
So it’s safe to say there was a lot of anticipation going into the final this weekend, with two of SA’s most ambitious sides facing off in an epic clash. The Bulls and the Sharks had already met four times in Currie Cup finals with each side earning two victories since their first match-up all the way back in 1956. A Currie Cup win would have been the ‘cherry on top’ of a successful year, Sharks coach Sean Everitt noted…but alas, it was not to be. Bulls coach Jake White picked an experienced Bulls line-up to claim their 24th Currie Cup title.
It didn’t come easy, though – what with the almost-storms, the fact that they were behind almost all the way through, and that it all came down to an epic overtime struggle in the longest Currie Cup final ever. Awesome.
And that’s the week in sport.