West Indies cricket great Michael Holding believes any regulations against racism in sporting disciplines will remain just a plaster on the sore as long as the society does not change its thought process towards other races.

Asked about his views on the protests around the world against racism after the death of African-American George Floyd in the US and numerous athletes taking a stand against it, Holding said racism in sports cannot be stopped by merely having tough rules.

“You will get racism, people will shout things at cricket grounds, football grounds, wherever, you can’t stamp out racism by tackling individual sports, you have to tackle the society,” Holding, who took 249 wickets in 60 Tests for West Indies between 1975 and 1987, said in an Instagram interview with sports journalist Nikhil Naz.

“It is the people from the society who go to these grounds and shout racist slogans or racist abuse at people. You have to tackle it from the society itself, not the sport,” the 66-year-old added.

Holding said the realisation has to be within the society that it is unacceptable to discriminate.

“Fine, sports can have their rules and regulations under which you enter the ground, that’s just a plaster on the sore. The people in the society have got to understand that it is unacceptable, and when you tackle it in the society itself, it will not spill over in sport,” he added.

Holding’s compatriots Darren Sammy and Chris Gayle have spoken strongly against racism and supported the Black Lives Matter campaign around the world. Sammy has also expressed shock about facing racist slurs in the Indian Premier League. The two-time T20 World Cup-winning captain, has alleged that he was subjected to racist comments during his stint with Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Holding reiterated that such things won’t change unless the thought process changes, referring to the Amy Cooper incident in New York that went viral recently. Amy Cooper, a white woman, called police on a black man named Christian Cooper in Central Park, New York, claiming that he was threatening her life. Christian Cooper recorded the incident for evidence as Amy repeatedly mentioned that she is in danger because of an African-American man.

“I have said it before and I will say it again. Remember what happened in that incident at Central Park with Amy Cooper? The first thing that entered her mind was to call the police on this African-American. In her mind, with her thought process from the society in which she is growing up, she is already considered to be right. And then the African-American will find out later if he was right or wrong. It was the society that put that thought in her mind, that just didn’t jump in there. It was an automatic reaction from her living experience and that is what we need to change.

“It won’t just happen overnight. People have to consciously talk about and confront (such thoughts). Not just African-American people who have to confront, Caucasians, Asians... it’s not a black vs white that you see biases. You have racism in all different aspects of life in various cultures. 

— Michael Holding via Instagram chat with Nikhil Naz

You can watch the full interview here: