The Diplomacy of Sports

Worldwide sporting events, such as the World Cup and the Olympics, seem to bring out the best in humanity.  The athletes, while cherishing the opportunity to represent their country, truly respect their fellow competitors, sharing the passion for their given sport and fully aware of the dedication and hard work that culminated in their participation.  In like manner, fans, while cheering on their "home athletes," admire the skills of all contestants and generally demonstrate good sportsmanship; indeed, they welcome the chance to witness competition between the best athletes on our planet.

Of course, politics, nationalism, commercialism and a certain degree of corruption play out in the background.  While these less inspiring traits of human society are evident to anyone who pays attention to the awarding, planning and hosting of these major events, most of us eventually focus on the competition itself, even overlooking the "medal counts" that are repeatedly mentioned in coverage of the Olympics.

As conflict expands throughout the Middle East and Eastern Europe, it is refreshing to switch from the cable news channels to coverage of the World Cup; there, nationalities are recognized but the focus is on athletic excellence and on our shared enthusiasm for sports.  Perhaps international diplomacy could be turned over to these athletes; that would be a true cause for celebration!