Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Publish Day - Ink Blog - World Cup soccer perspective

My column in today's paper deals with my ongoing annoyance with some sports fans. Specifically, it bugs me that some fans are unable to put sports in perspective. It's a game, after all - and the ones who treat it as the most important thing in the world are often the same ones least likely to actually participate, and the ones most likely to sit on their duffs and drink beer while watching it.

Yes, I have issues with this apparent imbalance. Here's what I wrote - and here's the direct link to the piece:
Nothing 'tragic' in World Cup loss
Published Tuesday, July 11, 2006
The London Free Press

Watching coverage of Italy's World Cup victory over France on Sunday, it was easy to see how some folks miss the whole point of sport.

Italian fans spilled into the streets and justifiably celebrated their nation's shining moment. The sheer joy of the moment confirmed the unifying power of sport. Dejected French fans, on the other hand, used words such as tragedy and disaster to describe the outcome.

On a day when yet another Canadian soldier was killed in Afghanistan, it's preposterous that people would characterize a game where players kick a ball into a net as tragic or disastrous.

Tragic is a family whose son isn't coming home. Tragic is a country that can't seem to move past a fractured history of unimaginable violence and hopelessness. Tragic is not the outcome of a mere game.

France will have another chance in four years. No doubt soccer fans everywhere will be counting the days. But life goes on after you lose a football match. The real world isn't always as forgiving.

Your turn: Do people make too much of spectator sports? Would the world be better off if folks throttled their fanaticism back a bit?


Jennifer said...

oh dont get me started...
um yes... there is too much going into sports... yes they are talented and such but teachers and education could use the money a heck of a lot more than the sports... people might laugh at me saying that but if education was funded the same way sports was, schools would be as wonderful as some of the arenas!

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

How about when an athlete thanks God for winning the game? Was God angry or punishing the other team?

Anyhow, Carmi, I am participating in the Complimenting Complimenter's Summer of Compliments and I just wanted to say that I thoroughly enjoy visiting your blog. Your writings are provacative and your photos are always intriguing. Please continue the good work.

Anonymous said...

I was on my way to climb the mountain when the game started and on the way back I stopped on St Laurent to watch the parade of cars of screaming fans on both sides.

If only we could be that VOCAL and INVOLVED in other matters that really need our attention, like Peace, War, Tolerance and Politics, Famine and Disease. Maybe we could make a difference in the world if those sports people used their voices and enthusiasm in a more productive manner.

Games come and go but life is sacred, I think that crosses all the borders and barriers.


Who knew that Concordia University has been linked to helping groom someone to kill others. I think maybe we should take a look at that too. I am shocked and dismayed.


srp said...

Regarding one comment: I don't think God really cares who wins or loses a game. On the other hand, I think it totally OK to thank God that the players on both sides came through with no injuries.

Money! That's it! Money has tainted the world of games. The players are paid obscene amounts of money to play a game. Wouldn't it be easier and better for the physical fitness of everyone to just play neighborhood pick up games in football, soccer, baseball, etc. But, but there wouldn't be anything to watch on Sunday afternoon on TV? Duh! That's the point, don't watch, do!

Who thought up this nonsense of professional sports anyway?

DeAnn said...

Gosh, thank you! I know far too many people who don't treat it like a game!

Becky said...

Excellent piont. I couldn't agree more that people often become too involved in sports. My Ex would throw a temper tantrum and let his whole day be ruined if the Dallas Cowboys lost a game. I just can't understand how people can lose perspective like that.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, I'm with you, Carmi. I am so relieved that this stupid soccer stuff is over for another four years.

And people who watch racecars spinning around the track?? And get excited? I just don't get it. It's a car. Going around in circles. Around a track. Big whup.

And it goes for all sports, really. If you loves sports, then get off yer duff and actually take part in some of them, instead of wasting your life being a spectator of life.

Karen said...

I confess that I didn't watch any of it, but as a huge sports fan, I can appreciate the fanaticism. I don't think there's anything wrong with it, until it turns ugly and violent. Sports can unite people and help them relax and just have fun together.

Just stopping by to say hi Carmi. Hope you're having a great day.

Anonymous said...

I want to preface my comment by saying I am a die-hard sports fan. That said, I think it is abhorrent to see people riot when their favorite team wins a championship. And you're right, Carmi (as always), there is too much REAL tragedy in the world to use those words when describing sports losses. It's a game, people, a game.

Juliness said...

Caneragon and SRP both hit the bullseye! There is WAAAY too much money being paid to those individuals in professional sports! It is both scary and very sad. The competitive nature of the players, *not* the fans, has been very much diluted by the infusions of cash. Really, it doesn't matter anymore if they win or lose. They still get paid.

I can't help but think that if we spent even HALF of ONE team's (pick your sport here) collective salaries on some humanitarian program that it would be a much better way to use all those dollars. (Or Euros or whatever currency you chose.)

Rene said...

I absolutely despise when athletes thank God for their victories. As others have said, I think God as other things to worry about. I'm not a soccer fan myself, I like watching my daughter play. But the whole "soccer hooligan" thing really puzzles me. I've seen fights at Dodger Stadium, but they are isolated incidents with idiots drinking too much beer and they have very little to do with the game. I also despise how the media gives sports stars demi-god status. So many of them are dirt bags. Don't get me started on the NBA.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

I agree with you Carmi...For people to describe this loss.,..or any loss in sports as a "tragedy" is beyond my understanding....I understand feeling bad. I understand wishing the outcome had been different...but a "tragedy"....? I don't think so. And you are so right about what a True Tragedy is...loss of life in a senseless war...now THAT really is a heart breaking tragedy.

Prego said...

Dude, you've got to admit it'd be nice if a loss in a sporting event was all that was 'tragic'. Semantically speaking, I'm sure the fans were distressed, which would indeed make it a tragedy. I'd rather be bummed about a World Cup loss than about the rape and murder that I keep reading about, perpetrated by soldiers upon Iraqis and sullying the image of our culture abroad.

As far as how the deities feel about it, I'm sure they'd rather we play soccer than blow each other up. They're certainly sitting around, going, "What the f*ck? Where are all these souls coming from?"

Finally, never underestimate the power of sport. You should check out the book "Silent Night: The story of the World War I Christmas Truce". Apparently in the spirit of the season, an impromptu soccer game sprang up along the front. In the aftermath, the 'wise' generals realized that they must transfer the soldiers to different fronts, since the soldiers couldn't bring themselves to kill each other afterwards.

I believe one Scottish soldier opined that "If we'd had a thousand more footballs, the war would have ended that day."

That, to me is what the 'real world' is.

Your friend,

Plain Jane said...

I'd concur that there are some who make "too much" of sports - those who turn into stalkers or riot participants.. and the like.

The way I see it: if someone has a life of such comfort that they can quantify a sporting event as a tragedy... then what a wonderful life they must live. If that is the worst that ever happens to them or those they love far be it from me to deny them their claim.

There are times when words are used with such reckless abandon that it's hurtful to others to hear/read - but in the end, I think we should each be responsible for quantifying what we feel is a tragedy or a blessing. It won't be the same for all.