Lately, the issue of “outside players” vs “local players” has been raised by some members of the WCL community. Some have resorted to derogatory terms such as “rentals”. This is not surprising. The history of this country is replete with similar opposition/resistance/abuse when new comers have arrived and the local population has felt “threatened” and have resorted to name calling and have vilified them. This is a tactic to dehumanize and demean people. After all, a term such as “rental” couldn’t possibly refer to a human being, right? Here is a brief history of such discriminating behavior in our nation:

In the century after 1820, five million Irish immigrants came to the United States. Their presence provoked a strong reaction among certain native-born Americans, known as nativists, who denounced the Irish for their social behavior, their impact on the economy, and their Catholic religion. Nativists launched a sustained attack on Irish immigrants.

The Italian immigration, which took place in the 1800s, faced similar resistance from the nativists. The hostility that greeted the Italian immigrants grew out of a rising anxiety about large scale immigration. This anxiety began to influence a political response by the middle of the 19th century. In the 1840’s and 1850’s the Know-Nothing Party characterized immigrants as paupers and called for a drastic curtailment in citizenship privileges. The most common proposal was to require a twenty one year period for naturalization and bar the foreign born from holding any but minor local offices.

Similarly within Chicago, between 1910 and 1970, the percentage of African-Americans leapt from 2.0 percent to 32.7 percent. The rapid influx of blacks disturbed the racial balance within cities, exacerbating hostility from both black and white Northerners.

Such hostility wasn’t just restricted to people. When foreign cars (Japanese) first made their way to the US shores and roads, the US car makers and nativists wanted them banned, or their numbers severely curtailed as they “took away from American jobs”. Sounds familiar, WCL?

In recent times the Nativists decried the H1B visa workers and complained that these “foreigners” were taking the jobs away from the natives.

But the world constantly changes and those who are unable or unwilling to cope with the change get left behind or left sulking and complaining and resort to name calling. WCL has been undergoing a similar change over the past 15+ years. Only now, the change is accelerating. More and more teams are looking to compete at a higher level and are willing to utilize the resources at their disposal. This has upset the “nativists”.

You see, the nativists have always had a sense of entitlement. They believe that their rights are greater than those of non-natives. Similarly, the “nativists” of the WCL feel that they have greater rights to play in the WCL. They say (sometimes openly), “how dare these foreigners come and pollute what is rightfully ours.” What these nativists fail to point out is where in the WCL Constitution does it say that this league is meant ONLY for those who live in the Washington area. This is a league that has traditionally been open to everyone who wishes to play in it. It has always been a welcoming league. Even in its infancy, players from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and other far away places came to play here. It welcomed players from everywhere to come and play. This is what has made the league so great and has helped it grow and flourish, just like the United States.

This recent debate also reminds me about the debates about the State Universities that run on state taxes, but welcome students from other states and other countries. These students add to the diversity and the knowledge base and raise the competition, standard, and the profile of the University and create a rich learning environment. Many people complain that “it’s our taxes upon which the university runs and our kids should get priority”…. But these universities have done the right thing and have welcome students from around the country and around the world. If that was not the case, I suspect a majority of the WCL players would never have had the opportunity to even be in the US, let alone play in the WCL.

Some have lamented that the outside players are limiting the opportunities for “native” players to play in higher Divisions. They say this without providing any evidence to this affect. Teams in the higher Divisions (D1 and PD) are constantly looking for quality players and if there are such players available who wish to play in these higher Divisions, these teams would gladly have them. I have never seen a quality player not having an opportunity to play in the PD or D1. Our league has so many teams that every capable player has an opportunity to play at the highest level possible. Let’s take our team for instance. Players who decided to leave our team went and joined other PD teams. Similarly, every year dozens of players change teams in all 3 Divisions and go play where they think they have the best opportunity to utilize their talent. It’s a free enterprise with players making choices as to where they want to play. Data shows that no player who is capable of playing in PD, or D1 has been denied an opportunity to play in those Divisions. Those who make the counter argument do so without any data to back their argument. They are simply using the tactics used by political demagogues who love to raise red herring just like the “nativists” do about Immigrants.

Some argue that it’s not the individual player but the teams that suffer due to the influx of “non native” players. To this I say, Potomac is the perfect example of the contrary. This team had a group of players who were good, but as a team they needed some help to allow these good players an opportunity to play at a higher level. Addition of Sunny and Ravi made these players better. They not only improved their skill level playing with such quality players, but gained in confidence and self-belief. As a result, it was these “native” players who saw the team through in the D1 final after both Ravi and Sunny got out with more than 130 runs still to be scored. These players will now have an opportunity to play at a higher level, which they might not have had otherwise.

I suspect the issue isn’t about players getting opportunities to play at higher level but about teams not winning in the post season. Those who are against the non-locals do not like teams winning championships that have such players. THAT is the real issue here. Their argument about opportunities for teams and players is not supported by any data.

The entire idea of players wanting to play in higher Divisions is to see if they can play against higher level competition. The teams that bring higher level talent actually give “native” players an opportunity to test themselves against higher competition. It allows them to judge for themselves if they are good enough to compete at an even higher level. These players/teams should be thankful that they get to play higher level cricket without having to spend money to go to other cities or leagues to compete against higher caliber players. Similarly, we have players such as Adil, Charan, Danial, etc. who have benefited from this. Not only have they played against higher level competition here, but they get invited to play in other leagues and tournaments where they can test and further hone their skills which better prepares them to compete for spots in the US National Team and/or prepare them for selection in Professional Leagues around the world (ex. CPL).

The very idea of Premier Division is that you play against the best possible talent (not just the best possible “native” talent). And when teams are providing that opportunity, players should take advantage of it and test themselves against these highly skilled players. If winning championship against “native” is their primary goal, then D-2 or D-1 is where they should be focused on (granted that this year Potomac had 2 “non-native” players but that was the exception, not the rule in D-1). If testing themselves against the best possible talent available is their goal, then play in the PD against skilled players from around the country and around the world. Certain teams are providing you the opportunity to test yourself; instead of despising them, vilifying the and disrespecting them, accept the challenge and compete…your skill level might just improve.

 

In my next article, I will focus on the challenges of restricting/limiting “non-native” players.

 

 


 

1 Comment

  1. sabin says:

    This is just my opinion and mine alone. I am going to ruffle some feathers here but that’s all right.

    I don’t think there is anything wrong in any team getting players from anywhere to play a season – I just hope & pray that for the $ spent they win the trophy – be it PD or D1 or D2.

    Like what was stated in the article this isn’t a new phenomenon. 15 yrs back it was a Steve Massiah or Chik or Bartley or Dennison or Carl Wright or Abbasi – I am sure I am missing some of the others – they used to play for Kensington & Calypso & Virginia – back in the day when Sheldon was still bowling & we had a President by name John Pinnock. Back then the locals were an Imran, Dawood, Razi, Amir Sidiqqi, Nasir Islam, Shahid Munir, Raj , Kamlesh , Gunnu , Anurag…Passy, Munish, Bhatra , Venkat… There were teams from Allentown and Delaware. Back then also the minnows that would get to a semis would always want to beat the Imports…Back then it might have cost a team 1/4 th the $ spent, but win or lose – it was just bragging rights for 2 months and that was it. I don’t think we would spend 2 – 3 months justifying ” why the imports”. We need to give credit for where its due – if the impact players did the job, so be it – end of story. We should move on to next season. Back then we did have the same feelings when we lose to a Kensington or calypso or Virginia – but we knew where the credit needed to go.

    Its plain and simple. A team wants to win a tournament and it will do whatever it takes to get it done. The assumption made is that u need 4 or 5 impact players who will make a difference. Personally I would play for a ICC or Boyds and beat a Zolon or Potomac who did bring in the Impact players. That is just the way I am built and if I can be part of a success story so be it. But those 8 hrs that I am on the cricket field – its like no other feeling. Nothing comes in between u and the game – its something that u can’t explain to your wife or non cricket friends. But this can break a marriage – LOL.

    I will end with this by saying i don’t know if IMPORTS are improving anybody’s game. I would tilt to that side only when I see more that 50 % of a national team – be it for whatever tournament U-19 or Senior or College are from this league.. Else all that the imports are doing is helping a team WIN and nothing else.

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