Health & Fitness ‘Leadership needed in racism fight’ – Jason Robinson
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Former dual-code international Jason Robinson has called on the clubs and governing bodies to do more to tackle racism in the sport.
It is a year to the day since the murder of George Floyd sparked worldwide protests and Robinson believes that the example needs to be set from the top-down.
The ex-Sale Sharks, Wigan and England player spoke openly about his own experience of racism, insisting that there was a lack of leadership from those in positions of power during that time.
“When I was racially abused on the field as a player, nobody at the highest level came to us and said ‘what you just experienced in this game shouldn’t happen’ – because there was nobody on the board who looked like me,” he told Sky Sports.
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“There was nobody who felt what I felt, so for me being in this position now, I understand it. If players go through it, I will deal with it knowing how it affects them, and I have that lived experience and that diverse background of thought, lifestyle and education. I’m able then to do something about it.
Still so much more to do
“There has been a lot of talk about it, but there is still so much more to do and this is where, for me, now being on a board and being able to have that impact and say, to give more of an understanding of what needs to be done is key. The players can do what they want, but it’s the top which make the decisions.”
Robinson has been involved in a number of projects to help drive a change in attitudes and the 48-year-old believes that education is key.
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“In many ways, I live a very privileged life,” he said. “While I’ve had these experiences where I’ve had racist abuse, I also have the red carpet because I’ve won a World Cup – but I can also go into a supermarket and be followed around by security.
“It’s a funny old world we live in, so we’ve got to have education and show some compassion. For this to really move on, we’ve got to see a behavioural change. You can’t conquer what you don’t come from and some of these conversations are difficult.
“We don’t know how to deal with them and start them and, quite often, anything to do with race people get defensive because they don’t know how to talk about it.
“I get that, but unless we do talk about it and unless I tell people the experiences I’ve had and why I feel like this as a black man, they’ll never understand. That’s key going forward and that’s why it’s important for us all to share our stories…so history doesn’t keep repeating itself.”
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A year on from the murder of George Floyd! We look back and discuss the impact his death has had on sport. Tune in tonightarena at 9.30pm for “Tackling Diversity” I would welcome your thoughts and feelings. Education, positive action and discussion are key to change!
— Jason Robinson OBE (@Jason15Robinson)
Robinson also hopes that the events of the past year has helped people to have a greater understanding of what people of colour experience on a regular basis.
“Because I’ve been there and experienced it, I understand it and understand why people don’t get it – and it’s because it doesn’t affect them in their daily lives,” he added. “They don’t know what it’s like to be the only black person on the pitch or the only black person in the room.
“For me, now, it’s being able to use those experiences and have understanding for people. I think that’s one of the biggest things to come out of the George Floyd situation is just having some compassion.
“Forget the colour, that’s a man, a father and a brother, and how could you see another man go through that and not have compassion? A grown man, calling out for his mum – if that doesn’t affect you, nothing in life will.”
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