Dave Zirin

Mark Twain's maxim that "History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme" is echoing in the streets of Istanbul. The echo is heard in everything that makes Turkey resemble a sequel to the 2011 Egyptian Revolution that toppled assumed President-for-Life Hosni Mubarak.

Turkey and Egypt are of course two very different countries with different leaders, different political systems and different histories. But the revolt of the highly intense, usually apolitical "ultra" football-fan clubs must be noted.

Hearing the news made me feel like I'd accidentally walked into a wind tunnel. For as long as I had written about this issue and as many times as I had said in recent years that this will happen in a matter of months if not weeks, it still hit me like a triple shot of espresso cut with a teaspoon of Adderall.

Thanks to the courage of 34-year-old NBA veteran Jason Collins, we can no longer repeat endlessly that no active male athlete in North America has ever come out of the closet.

The dead. The injured. The anguish. All the result of bombs that were set to explode at the finish line just over four hours after the start of the Boston Marathon.

There will be time to mourn. We will mourn the dead and injured. I also mourn the Boston Marathon, and how it's now been brutally disfigured.

The Boston Marathon matters in a way other sporting events simply do not. It started in 1897, inspired by the first modern marathon, which took place at the inaugural 1896 Olympics. It attracts 500,000 spectators and over 20,000 participants from 96 countries.

Never have I witnessed a gap between the mainstream media and public opinion quite like the first 24 hours since the death of Margaret Thatcher.

While both the press and President Barack Obama were uttering tearful remembrances, thousands took to the streets of the UK and beyond to celebrate. Immediately, there were strong condemnations of what were called "death parties," described as "tasteless", "horrible," and "beneath all human decency""

The death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on March 5 will mean unseemly celebration on the right and unending debate on the left. Both reflect the towering legacy of Chavismo and how it challenged the global free market orthodoxy of the Washington consensus.

Less discussed will be that the passing of Chavez will also provoke unbridled joy in the corridors of power of Major League Baseball (MLB).

A professional athlete; a home with an arsenal of firearms; a dead young woman involved in a long-term relationship with her killer.

In November, her name was Kasanda Perkins and the man who shot her was Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher. Now her name is Reeva Steenkamp, killed by Olympic sprinter and double amputee Oscar “the Blade Runner” Pistorius.

If you want to understand why Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has declared a “state of emergency” or if you want to understand why the country’s defence minister warned on January 29 of “the collapse of the state”, you first need to understand the soccer fan clubs in Egypt - otherwise known as the “ultras” - and the role they played in the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Let's start with a fact. On November 16, the Israeli Air Force bombed the 10,000-seat Palestine Stadium “into ruins”. The stadium also headquartered the centre for youth sports programs throughout the Gaza Strip.

This is the second time Israel has flattened the facility. The first was in 2006 and the people of Gaza have spent the past six years rebuilding the fields, stands and offices to keep the national soccer team as well as club sports alive in the region.

* * *

In an act as appropriate as it is overdue, the Australian parliament began debating issuing an official state apology on August 20 to the country's late, great sprinter Peter Norman.

Norman won the 200-meter silver medal at the 1968 Olympics, but that is not why he is either remembered or owed apologies.

The spectacle of the 2012 London Olympics should be subtitled “The Bashing of the Chinese Athlete”.

On August 8, Andrew Jacobs of the New York Times published a much-discussed piece called “Heavy burden on athletes takes joy away from China's Olympic success”.

All kinds of “concerns” were raised about the toll “the nation's draconian sports system” is taking on the country's athletes.

Pages

Subscribe to Dave Zirin