When Kira Municipality Member of Parliament Ibrahim Nganda was asked why he refused to return the 20M given to each MP for COVID related activities, he said for him it was not a case of morality but rather a realization that he had people to feed in his constituency, therefore, the morality issue would wait in this case.

This reality is not lost on sports personalities. While some play just for fun and fitness, there are those that make their bread and butter through sports.

I watched the Police and Vipers last season. The Cops were all over Vipers like a bad rush but somehow the Venoms took the lead through a strange goal, the goalkeeper literally left the ball to enter his net after a couple of great saves. In that game, he was immediately substituted with the rumour mill rife that he had taken something but that is something between him and his God. This is not lost on only football, we have had stories in cricket where some teams don’t show for a contest in favour of the other when messages are exchanged but we shall also never know the whole truth.

The point is what are your reasons for doing it? Our sports is unappreciated with players getting the worst end of the carrot and this kind of environment makes it very ripe for gamblers to target sportsmen. If you have gone three months with no pay yet you have bills to pay at home, medical bills for extended family and your only job is sports, you will be attracted to your hand where you might not have if circumstances were different. They say man eateth where he worketh, not that cheating on a game is acceptable but the push factors are different.

No amount of education about heaven and hell will stop a desperate person. Our everyday heroes are as humane as all of us. They get hungry, they lose family and some of these things can only go away with the money. We see our heroes on TV or listen to them on the radio, we pay to watch them play and entertain us but their reality is no different from ours. None of them goes to the gas station and gets free gas, goes to the supermarket and gets free groceries, or gets free meals at a fine dining restaurant. However, they never get what they deserve from their sweat, our sports culture is non-existent. We take sports as a leisure activity which has given birth to a lot of alumni leagues. I am part of a team that runs a local cricket club but we can’t afford to look after players, our plan is to always find for them something to earn them an income while they are with us.

I had a chat with a few friends from better economies about the morale around fixing in cricket matches. Our amateur sportsmen go through as they try to make a living out of a sport they love and give their best, the reward though is not a reflection of their hard work.

The global nature of sports has meant that no matter where you are coming from you are judged on the same standard. This has meant that some of the guys from unfortunate backgrounds have had to do things they might not be proud of but a man has got do what he has to do.

In such cases, the morality of the issue has been thrown out of the window. If you have a sick mother who needs your help, you will do everything in your powers to save her life. We shall leave judgement to God.

Denis has represented Uganda in international cricket events including the World Cup. He is currently the captain of Wanderers Cricket Club.

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