Liquid Ink

The official website of Gint Aras, Finalist 2016 CWA Book Award

An open letter to the LKF

7 Comments

Dear Lithuanian Basketball Federation (Lietuvos Krepšinio Federacija):

During your past few Olympic basketball matches, a handful of Lithuanian fans disturbed the games by mimicking apes and making obscene racist gestures. This is, by any standard, outrageous behavior that stands in direct contrast to the spirit of the Olympics. While the majority of your fans behaved themselves and supported their team respectfully, they did not make the news. The minority of racists did, of course, as their behavior is extreme and, sadly, contributes further to Lithuania’s well-deserved reputation of intolerance and bigotry.

You cannot ignore this. These are your fans. They have come to support your team; by default, just like you, they are representatives of an entire country. Any team, no matter how popular or obscure, contributes to its culture of fandom through its own behavior, politics and official stances. If you ignore these fans, or if you pooh-pooh their behavior as the minor actions of a foolish handful, you indirectly enable it. It is not enough that arrests were made by English authorities or that an English judge threw the book at a fan. You must also act on your own accord.

Someone from among your brass, either President Arvydas Sabonis or Garbės Prezidentas (koks tinkamas pavadinimas!) Vladas Garastas–or, at minimum, some PR desk jockey–needs to step forward to condemn this behavior. You do not need to make an eloquent or even very lengthy statement. Something like this would suffice:

To our basketball fans, the citizens of London and the world:

It is with deep regret that we, the Lithuanian Basketball Federation, faced the news that a handful of our fans tarnished the Olympic games through racist behavior. This is deplorable and embarrassing. We have not come to the games in this spirit.

We denounce the fans who behaved in this manner. They are not representatives of Lithuania or our greater international fan base. Our players respect their opponents, and the team knows what a great privilege it is to play in the Olympic games before a worldwide audience. Lithuanians have a tremendous love of basketball, at home and abroad, and take great pride in their national team. The team takes the court with a spirit of sportsmanship, and we participate in the Olympics as members of a unified global community. Racists and neo-Nazis have no place in our fan base.

Cordially,

LKF 

You might argue that this is absurd. Should Christopher Nolan make a statement in the wake of the mass murderer who claimed to be inspired by The Dark Knight Rises? He should not have had do. However, he did.

7 thoughts on “An open letter to the LKF

  1. Very well written. I sincerely hope this will receive some sort of reaction. Even taking into consideration the incident when the former president of the LKF actually was using insulting words talking about the basketball players of colour different than the majority in Lithuania. Thank You, whoever are the people who wrote this letter. Highly appreciated.

  2. Sentiments expressed perfectly.

  3. When Lithuanian international pride is at stake, to condemn is not enough. Punitive action, by any legal means possible, is in order upon their return home. Not only by the Lithuanian authorities but the ‘unity of action’ by the Nation.

  4. Gintarai, thank you very much for writing this. I actually do not think that all the fans are racist per se.
    And a broader discussion is needed, but this public outcry about how the sign was interpreted and all defensive speech is shocking. I also hope that the LKF and Lithuanian Olympic Committee will actually make not only a statement, that it will be a lesson for us that we finally need to actually treat racism seriously, and talk about the meaning of this “national pride”.
    As well as it is a lesson to those fans who do not consider themselves racist and unconsciously actually make a sign which is a Nazi salute, because they have never reflected about it and maybe are not even aware that they are using this sign because they are affected by those among the fans who use the sign actually very consciously. Maybe it is about time to think what your actions actually mean and what meaning there is.

  5. Pingback: What’s my heritage? (Links to essays) | Liquid Ink

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