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.
The killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by a self-appointed "neighborhood watch captain" has provoked anguish, rage and now, at long last, resistance. We've seen rallies, demonstrations and walkouts at dozens upon dozens of high schools in Florida alone. Even more remarkably, this resistance has found expression in the world of sports. An impressive group of NBA players, from Carmelo Anthony to Steve Nash to the leaders of the NBA Players Association, have spoken out and called for justice.
When fist-raising 1968 Olympian Dr John Carlos and I wrote his memoir, The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed the World, we didn't exactly expect the publishing date to coincide with a mass national protest movement for economic and social justice. I've now heard about 100 variations of the joke: "It was really smart of your publisher to plan this whole 'Occupy' movement with your book release." It's an obvious comment, given that Carlos and I have made sure to visit every Occupy encampment we can on our national book tour.
The Women's World Cup proved to be a sparkling oasis amid the most arid section of the sports calendar. The football tournament provided a series of non-stop thrills, culminating with Japan's heart-palpitating final victory against the US, winning 3-1 on penalty kicks after extra time finished with the game tied at 2-2. Star US player Abby Wambach is no doubt hurting, but I hope the forward with the skull of steel realizes that she was absolutely correct when she said before the final: "It's gonna be awesome."
Soccer is the great global game: the closest thing we have to a connective cultural tissue that binds our species across national and cultural borders. But only in a world so upside down could “the Beautiful Game” be run by an organisation as corrupt as FIFA and by a man as rotten to the core as FIFA President Sepp Blatter. Only Blatter, whose reputation for degeneracy approaches legend, would hire a war criminal such as former United States secretary of state Henry Kissinger to head “a committee of wise persons” aimed at “rooting out corruption” in his organisation.
The Wisconsin-based National Football League (NFL) team Green Bay Packers — the only fan-owned, non-profit franchise in major US sports — won the Super Bowl on February 6, bringing the Lombardi trophy back to Wisconsin. But now, past and present members of the “People’s Team” are girding up for one more fight, and this time, it’s against their own governor, Scott Walker.
Over the decades that have marked the tenure of Egypt's “President for Life” Hosni Mubarak, there has been one consistent nexus for anger, organisation and practical experience in the ancient art of street fighting: the country's soccer clubs. During the current pro-democracy uprising, the most organised, militant fan clubs, also known as the “ultras”, have put those years of experience to ample use.
“[We are] saddened by the mixture of politics and sports.” So said a spokesperson for the Israeli Football Association in response to news on April 31 that the Turkish under-19 soccer team cancelled its match in Israel. Turkey's team made the move following the Israeli Navy's attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla that left at least nine dead and scores injured. Then on June 1, the Swedish Football Association (SFA) announced that it would formally request European soccer's governing body to cancel Sweden's under-21 game in Israel on June 4.