Dave Zirin

Their names are Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, 19, and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya, 17. They were once soccer players in the West Bank. Now they will never play sports again.

Jawhar and Adam were on their way home from training in the Faisal al-Husseini Stadium on January 31 when Israeli forces fired on them as they approached a checkpoint. After being shot repeatedly, they were mauled by checkpoint dogs and then beaten.

Ten bullets were put into Jawhar’s feet. Adam took one bullet in each foot.

Since their founding in 1896, every Olympics has arrived with the promise to unite the world.

One can still hear the lyrical words of the man who presided over the 1936 Berlin games, Chancellor Adolf Hitler, who said that he hoped his Nazi Olympics could help “knit the bonds of peace between nations”.

Hitler’s dreams of using the vessel of what is known as “the Olympic Movement” to create a harmonious world has tragically never come to pass, despite the best efforts of the aristocrats in the International Olympic Committee.

There are times when the line between shock, rage and sadness become so blurred it is impossible to know when the flow of emotion ends or begins.

The shock and rage come from hearing about an African-American student violently tormented by his three white housemates at San Jose State University in California. Thrown together randomly as first-year students tend to be, Logan Beaschler, 18, Joseph Bomgardner, 19, and Colin Warren, 18 found common cause in acts of racist sadism against their fourth housemate.

The New York Yankees of Egyptian football, Al Ahly, have officially expelled one of its top players, striker Ahmed Abdel Zaher.

Did this extraordinary act take place in the aftermath of a heartbreaking loss? No, the team had actually just triumphed 2-0 and Zaher had even scored a goal.

Was there an off-field scandal? Did Zaher find himself caught with steroids, or bullying teammates or running a dog-fighting ring? None of that. He was, by all accounts, a model citizen.

Your 14-year-old daughter is dumped on your freezing front lawn in a state of chemically induced incoherence with her shoes off and frost stuck in her hair. She tells you she was raped. You hear her 13-year-old best friend was also raped that same night.

Your daughter is then bullied as a tape of the incident passes around her high school. You wait for the indictments and some semblance of justice, but one of the accused is a football star from one of the area's most prominent and politically connected families.

If after Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, and Darius Simmons, you thought that you could be sickened by racist violence but no longer shocked, you need to know the story of Jonathan Ferrell.

There are few people in the sports world I respect more than Cyd Zeigler, the founder of the website Outsports, which deals with the sporting lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes.

I tweeted Zeigler's excellent article titled “Don’t Boycott Olympics Ban Russia From Competing Instead” precisely because it was incisive and made me think. I do, however, feel that on principle I need to state that I strongly disagree with his central premise.

One has to hark back to 1968 in Mexico City, when thousands of students and workers marched against the Olympics, to find a sports-related demonstration that compares to the size and militancy of the mass anti-World Cup/Olympic protests taking place in Brazil.

As in Mexico City, thousands of people in Brazil took to the streets — and outside of stadiums hosting Confederations Cup matches — raising slogans that connect the spending and austerity that surround these mega-events to a much deeper rot in the nation’s democratic institutions.

In February last year, the stalking and murder of Trayvon Martin affected pro athletes — particularly African-American athletes — in a way that perhaps can be best described as intimate.

Players like Carmelo Anthony saw the case far more clearly than George Zimmerman’s prosecutor: it was a racist murder and Trayvon, condemned to death for Living While Black, could have been them or their children.

I travelled to Brazil last September to investigate preparations for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. It was painfully evident that the social disruption of hosting two mega-events in rapid succession would be profound.

Everyone with whom I spoke in the community of social movements agreed that these sports extravaganzas were going to leave major collateral damage.

Everyone agreed that the spending priorities for stadiums, security, and all attendant infrastructure were monstrous given the health and education needs of the Brazilian people.

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