Sports

Hugh Rodwell m-14970 at mailbox.swipnet.se
Tue Jun 25 15:48:26 MDT 1996


Robert M and Zeynep:

>>Actually sports is politics Kevin. Unfortunately you just don,t see it. I,m
>>rooting for the Checks (the underdogs). But Look at the Olympics both today
>>in Geogia and in Berlin under Hitler..
>
>Heya people, Malecki I agree. *Must* be full-moon.
>
>Sports *is* politics. I did a paper about "Sports" for a Sociology Students'
>Congress once.

[snip]
>
>It was probably the paper around which most political discussion revolved.
>Was a good widespread discussion too. It was a short while before the first
>May Day rally in which the student movement managed to unite around a
>coalition called "coordination", and I met most of the organisers from other
>cities, who were inaccessible before, defending/discussing my "sports" paper.
>
>It is good to discuss subjects which clearly play a role in the lives of
>many, are discussable by many since a lot of people know the subject, which
>are clearly political.


Way to go. (Only it's half-moon -- Christ knows what you'll be like in two
weeks time, Zeynep!)

Sports is not just politics, it's political dynamite. As anyone remembering
that incredible icehockey final between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union
after the Soviet invasion will never forget. There was even a war between
El Salvador and Honduras sparked off by a football match! The volatile
lumpen masses of the Byzantine empire were organized into two huge
horse-racing factions (Blues and Greens I think it was).

In the mid-1970s I lost a job for twenty minutes because I decided to use
'Sport and politics' as a subject to stimulate a class of Swedish upper
secondary students into discussion (Swedes do not take being stimulated
into discussion lightly). The sport was tennis, the match Sweden vs
Pinochet's Chile, the venue was in Sweden.

We had a good discussion, but two of the kids squealed to their dads, who
were old buddies of the headmaster from their days at the Technical
University. The dads leaned on the head, and when I got to the classroom
the next day, my way was barred by a deputy head and I was escorted to the
staff room while another teacher took my place.

You see, I didn't have *tenure*. I hadn't got Swedish qualifications -- yet.

This was at the height of the welfare state, in the basically proletarian
town of Soedertaelje, and the kids were average, no gilded youth. But I
don't need to lecture everybody about the fragility of bourgeois democratic
rights in bourgeois states, even the most radical ones, do I?

However, the teacher who took my place was a real comrade. She didn't ask
them to open their books at page 63 and get on with it. She asked them what
had happened.

It turned out that the two who'd squealed were utterly isolated. The rest
of the class were surprised and enraged. An angry delegation marched off to
the head, and I was fetched from the staff room and made one of the few
triumphal entries of my life as I walked into the classroom with my meal
ticket safe for another few weeks. You won't believe it but the kids
applauded!

Sport and politics, yup.

While we're reminiscing, it pays to keep your cool when watching sport in
public places.

My dad was at a campsite in Italy when the 1966 World Cup final was being
played. England and Germany. Trouble was, he was the only Englishman in a
camp full of Germans. At the end of the match there was grim silence -- and
my dad cheering his head off! I don't know how he survived the night.

And I just happened to be in Brazil during the last World Championships,
and was in a public canteen watching the Brazil-Sweden match. Now, in Sao
Paulo the place literally explodes (I said *literally*) when Brazil scores
a goal. Only this time the Swedes scored. Grim silence. Only me and my arms
in the air, in spite of myself! Guess who ducked out of sight in the
blinking of an eye? Remember that joke about the two kinds of Trotskyists?
The quick and the dead? That day, I was quick.

Rahul and Rakesh must have a thought or two about the political relevance
of cricket. What about our French lurkers and the Tour de France, my own
personal favourite timewaster in July (no satellite channels with cricket)?
Will Miguel do it again for Banesto?

And as Zeynep said, it's Olympics time in Cokeville, Ga.

Enough!

Cheers,

Hugh





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