In February 2017, following Donald Trump’s now infamous ‘travel ban’, members of Te Papa’s curatorial team joined together in writing an insightful and powerful blog post focused on “remembering the humanity of those individuals who have escaped conflict, and found refuge here in Aotearoa/New Zealand.” Curators from across of the national museum’s diverse collection areas shared stories and objects in speaking out against the inhumanity of America’s unravelling political landscape.
Among the enlightening and inspirational stories they shared, was one sentence that resonated with us here at the New Zealand Cricket Museum:
“… the true richness of a museum is not merely in the objects but in the people who bring us these taonga, who share their lived experiences with us, and who show extraordinary generosity to pass them on to the rest of the world.”
Many sports market themselves as “a game for all”; inclusiveness and equal opportunities celebrated with handshakes and board-mandated policies.
We know that’s idealistic and we know that there are players and fans who will drop the ball, excuse the pun. In many cases, it’s a slip of the tongue, a lack of understanding borne not out of anger or fear but naiveite and mis-placed intent. At other times, the source of action or comment comes from a deeper insecurity and ignorance.
We truly believe that cricket is a game for all and we are in a unique position to view that in action. We see children filling the playgrounds with cries of “howzat”, teenagers who dream of stepping out on to the iconic stadiums around the world, adults who play social cricket with their mates because that’s what summer is about. We see fans lining up for autographs before spending hours trying to decipher which scrawl belongs to their favourite player, embankments packed with fans, researchers looking for forgotten players and stories. We see the BLACKCAPS lighting up a World Cup, the WHITE FERNS representing us with unparalleled commitment, the BLIND CAPS returning to their own World Cup after years away. We see kirikiti played by huge groups in the park, cricket on beaches throughout the country, and fans online debating selections, best innings, and greatest players.
There are always arguments about the convergence of politics and sport, or the place of sports people as role models. As a cricket museum, it is our role to present the history and culture of cricket but, in line with Te Papa’s point above, we also have a larger role within our community. While we celebrate our game and its players, we respect that it is just a game and there is more that impacts our community than simply what happens on the field.
To that end, we say to all involved in our game, respect those around you; respect their words, respect their choices, respect their gender, their sexual orientation, their race, their religion.
Respect their right to be exactly who they are.
Then, maybe, cricket can truly be a game for all.