Letters To The Editor

“Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

Protests turning into riots

It’s a common story, seen in democracies and non-democracies, in every region of the world. An initially peaceful protest movement engages in violent clashes. Images of peaceful demonstrators are replaced by rioters with sticks and rocks. In my early 20s, I had never seen many protests or really gave much thought to them. In my ignorant, blissful mind, things were peaceful, especially around me. When protests around the country started happening, I started thinking a lot about what protests were and what their purpose was. I was fine with the idea of protests, I recognised the rights the people protesting had; they wanted a change and they have the right to show their opinion about a needed change by protesting. But then the protesting throughout the country turned into rioting and looting, destroying businesses and even putting people’s lives in danger. That’s when I realised the difference between a protest and a riot. A peaceful protest is good, it’s a right and allows others to share their opinion and make a change. A riot is harmful and does no good. I became saddened by watching the news and seeing the divide between the country. Watching people turn violent and innocent people’s businesses get destroyed. Last week, a protest was lead against a TV channel which was supposed to be a peaceful protest but it turned violent resulting in the protestors turning violent and breaking the premises of the channel the protest was against. What started as just a normal protest, became a riot, and the riot led to destruction. The protest that started for a cause, harmed people and their properties. This is what is unacceptable. When a protest becomes a riot, it’s hurting not helping. Protesting is a right. Rioting is a crime. When protesting turns into rioting, it’s harmful and goes against the whole purpose of what’s originally intended. If the protest isn’t helping lives, then what is it doing?

Haseeb Sheikh,

Sports without spectators

One of society’s most popular pastimes – apart from Netflix, soaps, social media and actually playing sport – is watching or following sport, sports teams, stars and events. While it is widely acknowledged that participation in sport and physical activity makes people feel good and is good for their health, less is known about the feelings aroused through watching sport, especially live sport. There is much talk of a ‘feel good’ factor generated by the communal consumption of sport, but little in the way of explanation of what this actually is. The covid-19 global pandemic serves to remind us of the crucial role spectators at sports events play in the co-production of a match, event, race or game. Consider the role of spectators in top-level tennis, high-profile boxing matches and weekly football games. Research shows that fans influence player’s performances, referees’ decisions and match outcomes. Olympians speak of the roar of the crowd when they first enter the Olympic arena, a sound and feeling they recall decades after their sporting days are over. Covid-19 has put a stop to this and thus robbed sport temporarily of the very mechanisms by which the ‘feel good’ factor is generated. Over the last few decades, sport has been hit by major scandals like match-fixing, corruption, countries boycotts, terrorists’ attack though nothing matches the scale of the coronavirus. The sporting calendar is in disarray amid the virus fears, with major international sporting events either being cancelled, postponed or relocated. Stadiums all across the globe have remained empty as coronavirus has brought professional sports to a standstill. But amidst all the gloom, there is a silver lining. Sporting events in some parts of the globe have resumed in empty stadiums or with only a limited number of spectators. Though, this won’t be the same as a stadium full of the synchronised roars of the crowd. And in these difficult times, the ability of sports to bring people together is missed more than ever.

Suhaira Shakeel,