Men’s Ego was largely behind #SandpaperGate

How we raise our young, especially the young men, has a major impact on what society we breed.

Now that the ill-fated Australian cricket tour to South Africa has come to a shameful end, maybe it is time to reflect as to why the beautiful game of cricket made headlines for the wrong reasons in the past week and more.

I am not a cricket fundi and my following of the game is just above the pedestrian status. So I cannot even tell you what happens when someone tampers with the ball or even looks menacingly at an opponent after dismissing them. So this piece is not so much about cricket and its technicalities.

As we speak currently, there is a number of men, young and old, back in Australia, who are living in shame and some having been removed from the game at a heavy loss of future income.

How do we end up here? The answer lies in the 3-letter word that has destroyed so many people, relationships and nations: EGO.

It does not matter what schools we take our sons to, or what books we make them read, or what privileges we give them, and what dangers we prevent them from. If as adults, parents and society we do not teach our boys to rise above their egos, we will continuously find ourselves in the big bad world we are dealing with.

What ego you ask? Our egos nine out of 10 times blind us from taking rational decisions because more often than not, the latter are unpopular and in all likelihood, put us outside the inner circle and we risk losing out on privileges that come with it.

By any stretch of the imagination, Cameron Timothy Bancroft, at the age of 25, is a young man. For all intents and purposes, about seven years ago he was finishing high school and making sexist and chauvinist comments with his age mates in the showers.

When he made it into the big stage of cricket, as he likely did at high school, his ego dictated to him to endear himself to senior players in the Australian team, and no less the disgraced captain.

Without a doubt Bancroft knew that it was wrong and illegal and immoral to rub that sand paper on the ball. But in his hierarchy of priorities, being loved by his captain and his team, trumped everything else.

That’s what every young man wants. To be loved by peers and by older men around them. They want approval. Bancroft is no different. Even if his talent was likely to be good enough to elevate him to a longer stay and bigger role in the team, he was more than happy and willing to break the rules all in the name of the team.

And so it happens with many boys that we raise. They take one puff from a cigarette offered by senior boys behind the school toilets. They wear sneakers to class instead of uniform. They get encouraged to rub their bodies “by mistake” against girls’ bums or to touch the girls’ bosoms.

And because they don’t want to be “that guy” who says no to group acts, because they don’t want to be “that guy” who thinks they are better, they relent. They take one puff, before we know it they are buying their own packets and are smokers.

One day it is sneakers, the next is defying all rules of the school, and sooner of society. They tease and fondle girls “by mistake” and in no time, they are forcing themselves unto them and the culture of abuse and rape perpetuates.

Ego has destroyed our boys and society because these young men feel they need to belong to the group, the clan, the brotherhood. They do this even when they are aware that if things went wrong, it would ruin them.

But they are more afraid of being outcasts than of the potential life-changing consequences of their acts.

If only Bancroft was prepared to “be that guy” that says no. To “be that guy” willing to lose group privileges. “Be that guy” willing to lose potential progression than to be a bad hero. That guy who could look at his life beyond two seconds of fame and affirmation from the group.

Today, former Australian captain is banned for a year. This is worth millions of dollars lost only because his ego would not allow him to be that captain that loses to South Africa. Now his lost more than the series. He has lost money. But worse, he has lost honour and integrity. All because of ego. All because he was not prepared to “be that guy”.

[Follow me on twitter @ramsbythehorns]

In the next few weeks I will post again to tell you about Future Kings, an initiative of the Rams Mabote Foundation that focuses on teenage boys to teach them such values that will one day make them great men of society.