08 August 2004

Sports is War!

Not the World Peace Edition

Sports facilitates world peace. Nations across the world put to rest violent rivalries in favour of civilized competitions. And the last time anyone believed in those two lines were...?

We need a more realistic way to talk about sports. That way, much heartache can be prevented. Just like how even children outgrow their beliefs in the infallibility of Santa Claus, the President and the Church, we owe it to ourselves to wean adults from the myth of sports.

1. Sports is big business.

A. Witness the amounts of corruption and jockeying at the IOC even as they choose a city to host the Games.

B. Witness the amounts of illegal sports betting that accompanies sports.

2. Sports is about winning.

It really is an old story, but people don't seem to realise sportsmen and sportswomen are mostly in it just to win. At any cost. Granted, we hardly see females swimmer grow beards these days (aside from the Chinese swimming team), but doping is now a big business involving top athletes and pharmaceutical companies.

3. Sports is war between nations.

Seriously, if you were to organise a sports competition that tried to reconcile nations, the first thing that comes to mind would be to organise it as a competition between nations?

Most recent case in mind: The Asian (soccer) Cup. Apparently the Chinese fans kept jeering at the Japanese team in all their matches in China. Even at the final match, the guests were booed during their national anthem, during every pass and goal. When they won despite the hostile crowd, the Chinese started a riot.

So much for sports facilitating peace.

The other lesson of the day? Apparently no matter how incompetent or unpopular the dynasty ruling China (Ming, Qing, Communist...), the rulers can always count on xenophobic patriots rising up to defend the nation, and even slaughtering a few foreign devils in the process.

Many such patriotic movements have done so throughout China's history, with the more recent examples being the White Lotus Cult and the Boxer Rebellion.

In a way, if I were an incompetent ruler, I'd want to turn a blind eye and hope the patriots get caught up in their anti-foreigner nationalism instead of getting interested in the corruption of the government.

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