Posted by: Opey | July 30, 2007

Soccer/Football Does What Politics Can’t

I’ve decided to set a new goal of sorts for myself and this blog. Over the past few months, the image and good name of many sports have been tarnished by the actions of their players and others affiliated with them. The examples are numerous: Dog fighting, drug charges, domestic violence, cheating, gambling scandals, etc. Just like crime on the local news, these stories are quickly deemed as major sources of scandal and “public interest,” so they are quickly consumed by the 24 hour sports news cycle and are constantly shown on ESPN and other sports media outlets. All of this wall to wall coverage threatens to permanently degrade the nature and effect of sports. Something needs to be done to counter this. There is so much more to athletics, many of it with truly positive messages and results. I therefore hope to find stories about successes in sports that run counter to the negative images that are often the focus of Sportscenter and other sports coverage. This won’t turn into a full on theme, but I think that there needs to be some “balanced” coverage where the good athletics can do gets its proper due. Last week I made mention about Joe Thomas signing with the Browns and how it was good to see a truly good person receive what he deserves in professional sports. Today I came across a story with an even better message, one that has global implications. Over the weekend, the Iraqi national soccer team won the Asian Cup.  Usually a team winning a championship is a good thing in and amongst itself, but this one is special.  This team managed to do what the nation and Iraqi government has yet to be able to do: work together towards a common end.  The team is made up of members of various Iraqi ethnic and religious groups, but they were able to work together to achieve soccer success.  In addition to that, the victory gave the Iraqi people something to cheer about.  In a nation where there is little to be happy about, a sport championship gave citizens a moment of elation and joy.  Many people often focus on individuals and their achievements (or stupid actions) when they speak of sports, but it is important to remember that teams, especially when they are national in origin, can offer examples of cooperation and hard work, as well as help bring together people and give them something to cheer about.

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