Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sports need a level playing field

This is a belated story about Palestinian participation in the London Dowlympics games last summer. Olympic games are a combination criminal enterprise & circus for the world’s richest people. (Who else considers yachting & fencing sports!?) Most of the elite athletes come from the monied class since it costs a bundle for years of training. While working class kids are flipping burgers & babysitting for dough, the athletes are spending hours in gyms with high-paid trainers to become olympiads. And good for them! But until those class inequities are eliminated & there is in fact a level playing field, olympian status can only be considered qualified. If wealth eliminates most of the competition, can you still call it a competition? Who knows what those unable to contend would achieve? Spoken, of course, as a sore loser!

The delightful photo here is of children mimicking Gaza runner Bahaa al-Farra in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City where he trained. He didn’t get real running shoes until a few months before the Dowlympics when he & a woman teammate from Nablus, West Bank traveled to Qatar for a fully equipped training camp. Of the five Palestinian competitors in the games, only one judo athlete qualified; the other four were given wild card entries (meaning they were below qualification standards). Because there is no competition-sized pool in Gaza or the West Bank, the two swimmers had to travel to Barcelona, Spain to train & the two runners had to jockey between Jordan & Egypt for training facilities.

By contrast, Israel sent 37 athletes to the games, 15 or more of whom were Zionist settlers trained for the most part in countries like Russia, Argentina, Ukraine, South Africa, the US--all with trainers & accessible training facilities, as well as in Israel.

But even such sour grapes cannot ruin the delight of this photo. (Photo by Mohammed Salem/Reuters)

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