Ban violence not big matches | Daily News

Ban violence not big matches

 It is Big Match season and despite the controversy and the chaos it brought about earlier this month, the games have gone ahead as planned. The barrage of allegations and questions raised as a result of a clash between student groups of Ananda College and Nalanda College earlier this month, however, have mostly been unanswered.

Eight students on either side were left hospitalised and this led to a group of Buddhist monks, headed by Ven. Omalpe Sobitha Thera, the Founder of the Sri Bodhiraja Foundation calling for the ban of big matches in the ‘name of morality’- a call which was swiftly shut down by the Minister of Education, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, a fan of the Big match himself. Between games and morality however we find that there is a problem which needs to be addressed and that is of violence that is ever pervading our society.

From our homes to our schools, it is our first resort and not the last. It does not take much for an argument to turn into fisticuffs and as Nalanda College Principal, Ranjith Jayasundera said to Daily News, “The school is just a section of society after all and what happens outside spills inside. We can only minimise such incidents, we cannot stop them.”

The Principal whose school was the centre of it all has resigned himself to such incidents.

“The big match was not the reason for this fight though it occurred close to that season. This was a personal issue between boys of the two schools which escalated. Not all are like this, it is just a small group with their own agendas who have used the student groups for their own advantage. Such things happen at the end of exams too,” he said.

To him the problem is more of a law and order issue rather than enforcement of school discipline. “If the law enforcement agencies are strong and enforce the law, it will be fine. The police should freely punish them under civil law,” said Jayasundera.

The students of Ananda College in the meantime are equally passive about the fight. Chaminda Sangeeth, 18, in all his exuberance puts the fight down to simply them retaliating when Nalandians hit their bus ‘thrice’.

“It was a small problem and not because of the Big Match. We have spoken about it and we even had a march together with the two schools. The problem has been solved,” he said more than happy to forget the whole thing ever happened.

His classmates are equally ‘matter of fact’ about the fight. “Fights between schools during Big Matches are a normal thing. People cannot blame big matches for the recent fight as that was due to a different reason. It was the media that exaggerated the incident. They even said it was because of some love affair, but even that is wrong. Fights are normal and we usually resolve it among ourselves,” said an Anandian.

“The monk who said that the matches should be banned did so because he was sensitive to the fact that these were Buddhist schools and thus, we should maintain better discipline. But, fights are common between boys’ schools,” he added.

Banning Big matches is not the solution

To Human Rights Lawyer, Aritha Wickramasinghe, it has been frustrating when the solution people propose to a problem is always to ban it all.

“Sport teaches unity, team work and is enjoyable to watch and play. If violence is occurring during or after a Big Match, then this is not the problem of the Big Match. This is the problem of violent individuals and a social mindset that violence is an acceptable solution to problems,” he said and observed that, “Sri Lanka is an increasingly violent society. This is because violent behaviour on its own is encouraged and being fostered. From our schools, to homes, to politicians and especially religious leaders, we are shown that to inflict violence on someone or something is an acceptable solution to a problem.”

Violence in a society recovering from 30 years of conflict is to be expected but the question is what are we doing about it?

“Each time a parent or teacher canes or slaps a child, you are teaching that young child that violent is a solution. Each time Buddhist monks go on protest campaigns damaging public property, threatening individuals and using vile language, you are teaching the youth that violence is a solution.

Each time politicians instigate racial or religious or any form of intolerance and ridicules others, you are teaching that violence is a solution. When everyone in the establishment in this country is teaching and showing that violence is the solution to their problems, should we be surprised that violence is increasing?

How do we curtail violence? You start teaching children and society values,” emphasized Wickramasinghe.

The need to start teaching values at a young age is not a new proposal, it has been advocated from all quarters and leading up to the President himself, what we lack is implementation.

Aruna Keerthi, 46 waits to pick his son up from Royal College. As he waits, scores of boys get on motorcycles and cabs, whizzing passed him, exuberant of their upcoming match. The proposal to ban the Big Match, he finds to be extremely ridiculous.

“The matches need not be banned just because of a fight. If so can we abolish the Parliament because they are also fighting and speaking in filth? What can I tell my son when he asks me why the big match is banned because of a fight but those in Parliament continue to fight regardless of any consequences?” he asked.

“Compared to their conduct, this is a small issue. Children do fight and we cannot avoid it. They will fight today and become friends tomorrow,” he added.

To him, the answer is simple, “I have told my son to remain calm if someone hit him the first time and be thus even a second time, but if someone hits him a third time, I have asked him to hit them back.”

Vihanga Perera- Writer

Big Match-related "violence" seems to be predominantly an issue limited to a few schools, and that too, closer to Colombo. I would say that if a more meaningful and honest involvement is done by individual schools, these situations can be lessened.

In the late 90s and early 2000s, when I was schooling, there used to be a meeting on the week of the Big Match, where the Principal would speak. Sometimes a senior officer from the Police would come and have a chat. Not that the school I attended has ever been known to be dramatic during Big Matches - but, still, as a matter of procedure.

I would say that many "modern day school admins" don't want to get involved beyond a certain official line of duty. The business of "discipline" is not taken seriously enough by some school admins. The root of the issue is there.

Avinda Perera –works at a private company

Schools need to enforce discipline. If they get out of hand and destroy public property then they must face the consequences. Certain groups trespass properties of other schools and vandalize walls in the name of tradition. They know the risks and must face the consequences, rather than hide behind the banner of the ‘big match’.

The big match, in principle should foster harmony and respect between two institutions that despite rivalry, admire the skills and courage displayed on the field and ideally off. Ban the match? No! Government intervention to uphold civil laws during ‘revelry’? Yes, but through proper police work and not by action to ban the match. There have been instances where schools have taken decisions to ban encounters altogether due to disciplinary issues, sans sentiment. School administration should be strong to do this.

During my Dad’s time, the ‘cycle parade’ was a pretty harmless affair, lads on bikes cycling through Colombo with school flags and trying to look cool in front of girls’ schools. Now they have helicopters, and schools try to out-do each other but they say it is tradition and that even ‘ragging’ is ‘tradition’ too but they forget what they should stand for the values of the school. St. Thomas has a huge love affair with being ‘Thomian’ that they have all got their wires crossed, it is the same with Royal. Can it be called fraternal egoism? Character, Conduct and discipline are three qualities that ever conscientious students should be taught as a member of society and as an ambassador for his/her school.

R. Madhushan, A medical university student

You cannot ban it. It is the school culture. I have been to many big matches. I have also seen students drinking and using weed and I think fights take place as result of it. The fights erupt after the matches not before the matches. The school administration and the relevant authorities should take necessary action. These incidents are not new, it is like a part of our culture and its been happening for years.

Niresh Eliatamby

There is no ‘Big Match Problem.’ This is simply a law and order problem - tell the police to do their jobs. Lawbreakers shouldn’t be classified as undergrads, students of leading schools or sons of politicians. Anyone who breaks the law should be dealt with according to the process given in the law.

Teelaka,14, Royal College student

Big matches should not be banned. We enjoy it a lot and support and cheer our school players. That’s the unity of the school. We just don’t fight with each other. It is a good opportunity for the students to get to know each other and have a good time.

Tisura Gamage- works at a private company

Personally I have never been a big fan of the big matches. But banning them seems far too extreme and not practical to say the least. May be alcohol is the centre of the problem during matches. If the schools could impose proper controls for alcohol and over consumption that could go a long way I think.

Ishan Jalill- Human Rights Activist

"banning big matches?" That's simply ridiculous! People go for big matches, they eat, drink, be crazy etc.. But quarrelling and violence of course must be curtailed through school administration. This is just like "banning Facebook because some people happen to commit suicide due to online misadventures."

Isura Jayaratne, 17, Royal College student

The school administration has asked the students to not to get involved in any of the fights. Big matches have been the tradition of the school and so is fighting for one’s school. But now they have said that even if it is tradition, if it does not gel well with our society, we need to change it. I would not agree with the fact that it has to be banned. The fights occur not because of the big match but people connect it as its the big match season. I think the current issues related to the big matches will be curtailed as the school administration has also taken several initiatives.



Add new comment