On the back of the Paris attacks, the sporting world has rallied together and offered a release from the hurt and horror that insane violence offers. I think Yasiin Bey sums up my views on the current predicament facing human beings on our little planet...
With England and France playing a footballin' friendly in London, it's a good time to remember the power of sports in bringing humans together. While sport is based on the concept of competition; putting two teams or two humans against each other to see who is better, we have all experienced in different forms the way that sport unites people from different backgrounds, religions and cultures.
After the Rugby World Cup I celebrated the fact that the All Blacks/the pinnacle of rugby included a Muslim in their ranks. This isn't any different to many other sports teams around the world and is just another example of how, united in their desire to represent their country, athletes come together under the blanket of sport and celebrate diversity.
It goes without saying that we (sane people) know that Islam is not about terror or reckless violence, which is a whole lot easier to believe when you have stood alongside a brother/team mate/comrade and competed with them.
World leaders offer lip-service on this topic. They bemoan the attacks on humanity, while pointing fingers and killing innocence themselves (no one in particular; they're all guilty). Yet sport forces people to come together and besides sporadic moments of madness, it does just that. This can be a hazard though as sporting events can become targets and we've seen that this morning with the football game between Germany and Netherlands called off after suspected terrorist activity. It makes sense to attack events which bring people together, with positive vibes seeping into the air, united in sporting joy.
Before you conjure up irrational hatred for your fellow human regardless of your religious perspective, just think about the good times you shared with someone from a different religious background. One constant throughout history has been religion-based violence, which took place when sport was no where near as prominent as it is now. There are many ways to slow down religious violence and sport is at the top of the list for me.
We have been given clear examples of how sport can unite folks recently. We have also been given many examples of how we as fans, perceive 'sportsmanship'. This weekend alone we saw Ronda Rousey not tap Holly Holm's gloves before Holm lit Rousey up along with an apparent lack of sportsmanship for Australia's cricketers as they didn't shake Ross Taylor's hand after he was dismissed for 290.
The first thought that enters my head here is that sportsmanship is such a trivial issue or ideal within the context of the mass killings that go down around the world. I stand firm in my belief that sport is great at bringing together and if that is the main goal of sport (besides winning) then matters of sportsmanship really don't matter.
I would rather hold athletes, officials and fans to a standard where they accept religious and cultural differences.
I don't care about holding athletes to a standard of sportsmanship that I have set. Just because I think sportsmanship should be displayed in certain ways, it doesn't mean that other people have to feel that way. Other athletes from other countries have different views, opinions and upbringings, so how can my (or your) view of sportsmanship be right?
We have got to the point where we pick apart sporting events, looking for a lapse in sportsmanship while neglecting the fact that we are all enjoying a sporting event instead of hating each other. We nit-pick sports, looking for lapses in sportsmanship, completely overlooking the fact that the players have a lot going on and small acts of sportsmanship might not be a priority in the heat of the moment.
Most importantly, we overlook what goes on behind the scenes. The BLACKCAPS joined Australian in their changing room after the drawn Test in Perth. They mingled, shook hands and enjoyed each other's company because once you leave that field of play, everything is put aside and you are just human beings with a common goal. Holly Holm an Ronda Rousey met after their fight and Holm celebrated Rousey's achievements as a female athlete. Outside of the octagon, the passion, aggression and intensity of competition isn't there and acts influence by the extreme levels of passion, aggression and intensity of competition are forgotten. As they should be.
Apply these views to your own life (if you agree)...
Do you pass the ball to/hi-5/hug/bum-tap/laugh with/mourn with a team mate regardless of their religious or cultural background?
As a fan, in a moment of pure joy, do you celebrate alongside other people without a worry of that person's religious or culture background?
Have you encountered a prick on the sports field and then shaken that prick's hand after the game and shared a beer of soft-drink with him after the game?
Have you been a prick on the sports field and then shaken hands with your opposition afterwards and shared a beer/soft-drink after the game as if you weren't a prick on the field?8