I’m not a big sports fan. In other words, I’d rather play a sport than watch it; and I don’t do that much either. One of the great things about sports, however, is that it is an equalizer. You can watch the FIFA World Cup (major event in my childhood; Israel might just squeeze in to the 2006 event, btw) or the olympic games and see nations coming together to compete in a civilized manner, mostly showing comradery never witnessed at any other time at such scale. Every olympic games generates a few such stories that are truly moving. And yes, I tend to get emotional watching the games take place for that reason alone; it makes me feel good and hopeful that people are still able to be civilized to one another.
When I hear of stories that demonstrate otherwise in such a setting, I get aggravated; or to be more precise, disappointed. Very. The recent one is about an Iranian judoka intentionally losing a match in order not to face an Israeli opponent. My reaction is “why?” Can’t they let go and see that these events are the last haven for apolitic conduct? Why can’t they leave politics at home?
Anyway, it’s not the judoka’s fault; the Israeli news papers report that he cried when the Israeli won and placed against him if he, in turn won his next match. They also report that the Iranian coach reluctantly muttered that these were “orders from above.”