The Meaning of Sports to Singapore

Posted On // 4 comments

I was on the MRT one fine day and I happened to overhear a conversation among a bunch of Singaporeans. They were commenting that Singapore's team is so full of foreign imports that we should barely be calling them OUR national team, but rather just an immigrant team. And when I got home, I took a look around the blogosphere and I saw this post Of Li Jiawei and her flag dragging fiasco and this The Power Of Symbols (Part One) & Li Jiawei ‘Dragging’ The National Flag.

The first goes like this - Li Jiawei may have dragged OUR Singapore flag, the ONE symbol of our identity as a nation, but hey, you guys don't really have a right to complain. Why? Because even though you may TRULY suffer because of ERPs, COEs, and public transport fare hikes, and may have GOOD reason to detest NS because maybe it really IS unfair (no proper insurance protection & miserable pay despite huge budget surpluses) , you're just being a hypocrite because hey, the love for your nation means you must hate yourself and have no right to bring up such pertinent issues. However, the fact that Li Jiawei was such a disgrace on international tv is a non-issue because our national flag is just, a fucking flag.

Well, my response to that is: it's not. And I love my country. Even if I don't, I think it's just downright disrespectful and unbecoming of a national representative. I mean, yes I wouldn't hang her for not respecting our flag, but dude, the flag represents us as a nation. You know, that's probably also the reason why they don't bring the whole Singapore down to Beijing, instead they leave us to be represented by a bunch of people in red and white and our grand flag during the opening ceremony which is intended to welcome all the participating nations.

I saw the second blogpost, and I think I've changed my opinion a little. Maybe Li Jiawei was tired, maybe she was busy waving to the rest of the crowd, maybe she didn't notice that she's actually not that tall. But really, when I get a summon for not putting my parking coupon, you know, I was actually just in a rush that day, don't blame me please. Point i'm making here is, she should have known better, both her and the bunch of people following behind. Not that oversight deserves the capital punishment, but really, oversight just means you were being flippant.

And as I get carried away, I detract from my style of summarising the blogposts. So let me do it now. Ian on the Red Dot agrees that Li Jiawei shouldn't have been so careless and points out that how the government responds to this incident should adhere to existing standards, or risk having double standards. I agree. Nothing much to say here.

So let's move back to the first observation I made on the train, that of Singapore's immigrant team instead of our national team. Well, given that most people do not see Li Jiawei as Singaporean, and she happened to be our flag bearer, one really wonders what the value in sport is for us Singaporeans.

Much like the Chinese, and probably every other nation, Singaporeans attach a certain sense of pride to the athletes who represent them in international sporting events, especially one as epic as the Olympics. Seeing themselves being represented by someone who is no more a Singaporean than another one of those immigrants who came in search of jobs must certainly have dealt a blow to many. For me, it just makes me feel disgusted. Not that I have anything against Li Jiawei, I think she's quite a good player actually, but it makes me feel disgusted at whoever is responsible for sending such a team, disgusted because I feel cheated. Cheated that my government would rather send someone who wasn't born and bred here, someone who effectively denied another person an opportunity to represent the country. Above all, it's just wrong. Wrong that we are being represented by someone who came here only because she was talent spotted. Tell me if I'm wrong, but surely, surely there is more meaning to sports than just winning. Surely the arena of international sports isn't just a place for country's to vie for medals. Surely we Singaporeans deserve better.

I must clarify also that I am in no way against immigrantion. I think it's good, it's healthy, and it's very "free market". But, maybe sports has a greater value than that which defines our economic policies (and political as well)


Anonymous said...

If people would wake up to the fact that the Olympic Games has long been politicised by Governments around the world, there would nothing to rant about. - IrCTP

Anonymous said...

Correction - "... there would be nothing to rant about." - IrCTP

Anonymous said...

The End Justifies the Means... that's what this place is all about.
In fact, she should be punished for dragging the flag as any one of us to start the process of being one of us...afterall, she's supposed to be a citizen right?

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