Flat White

There’s no racism at Basketball Australia? Well never mind, all is not lost

21 March 2021

3:00 PM

21 March 2021

3:00 PM

A Human Rights Commission report into racism within Basketball Australia, released at the weekend, is a solution in search of a problem.

A five-month investigation by the HRC found pretty much zero evidence of racism.

In fact, the report itself lamented that only 21 people had even bothered to make submissions to the inquiry.

It said the poor response indicated “a lack of interest in the topic by the basketball community or no concerns about racial equality in basketball”.

Well, there you go. That’s good news, right?

And the few who did respond to the HRC’s call for evidence of racism said that the sport could “sometimes be exclusionary”. And — wait for it — that “progress can sometimes depend on who you know”.

In other words, basketball is a lot like life generally.

The report also said: “The small sample size means that the feedback drawn upon and reflected in this report cannot be considered representative of the experiences of any relevant cohort — national players, coaches, or staff.”

Right. So an inquiry that few people could be bothered participating in produced vague generalisations that were, for all intents and purposes, meaningless.


Hardly a slam dunk.

But, of course, none of this stopped the HRC producing a 49-page report containing 12 sweeping recommendations requiring “a whole of ecosystem commitment” to change.

With no obvious racism to tut-tut, the HRC noted that “for the purposes of this Review, racial equality within such a sporting context means actively valuing diversity”.

There’s no racism at Basketball Australia? Well never mind, all is not lost. We will redefine terms and insist that it is not enough to not be racist. You have to be “actively valuing diversity”.

And with that sleight of hand, the HRC justify the cost of the report and the glossy paper it is printed on.

The HRC urged Basketball Australia to set targets for diversity among board members. Basketball Australia needed to “embed racial equality in all policies” (whatever that means) and implement “regular anti-racism training”.

Indeed. What better way to help a sporting organisation that has no obvious racial problems than by insisting those running it start to focus on race

There were nine other incredibly important action points without which the future of basketball in this country was doomed, but you get the idea.

Yada, yada, diversity, yada, inclusion, pathways, organisational culture, systemic approach, yada, yada, whatever.

Less than a quarter of the way through reading the jargon-ladened report my main worry about the organisational culture at Basketball Australia concerned the fact that someone had paid the HRC good money for this.

But that won’t be the end of the spend.

The Racial Equality Review of Basketball Australia 2021 concluded that: “Racial equality alone will not result in making basketball an inclusive sport and the recommendations should be considered and implemented in conjunction with broader diversity and inclusion efforts.

“This is critical, as the effects of exclusion can be compounded when race intersects with other characteristics such as gender, sexual orientation, disability, or socio-economic status.”

And so we look forward to the LGBTQ Equality Review of Basketball Australia, the Gender Equality Review of Basketball Australia, the Disability Equality Review of Basketball Australia and, of course, the much anticipated Socio-Economic Status Equality Review of Basketball Australia.

Because it’s not enough to not be racist or to not be homophobic when playing basketball. You have to shoot hoops in such a way that you are actively valuing approved identity groups.

And it just so happens that the Human Rights Commission, unable as it is to find many actual cases of abuse in the freest country on earth, have free time on their hands to help out with that.

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