Sporting success and failure mirroring society?

I’m about to sit down and watch Nation in Film, that BBC programme of West Indies’ tour in 1976. And the following teaser was uttered by Darcus Howe, one of the contributors.

I don’t think West Indian cricket ever had such an intense reflection of what was taking place in society

Viv Richards is bowled

Is the same true of West Indies now? Does the success of a national sporting team reflect the successes or failures, depressions and moods of society? If it did back then (Howe says that Tony Greig’s “grovelling” comment was, in West Indians’ view, distinctly racist: white versus black), the effect is certainly less so nowadays.

I like stuff like this. Thoughts welcome.

West Indies in England, 1976 (TV)

This Friday, BBC Two are showing archive footage (and behind the scenes stuff) of West Indies’ tour of England in 1976. This was Tony Greig’s famous “grovelling” comment – read Martin Williamson’s Rewind about it.

The remark was highly inflammatory for a number of reasons, the main one being that Greig’s words, coming from a white South African, were seized on for racist overtones. “The word ‘grovel’ is one guaranteed to raise the blood pressure of any black man,” Lloyd said. “The fact they were used by a white South African made it even worse. We were angry and West Indians everywhere were angry. We resolved to show him and everyone else that the days for grovelling were over.”

More at the Beeb.