Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sports terrorism - the two extremes of the human spirit

A terrorist attack against a cricket team? Can such things be? I suppose I must admit they can. ‘The assault, just ahead of a match, was one of the worst terrorist attacks on a sports team since Palestinian militants killed 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics’. Read the rest of the Fox News article here. Attacking Olympic athletes, attacking cricket players has something of an eerie crazy nightmare parallel universe quality to it. This is a form of terrorism that almost imposes pity, for the victims certainly but also, in another way, for the perpetrators.
I found a lead to an article that sums up my feelings on the subject at one of my regular ports of call Inca Kola News where the noble Otto has posted Simon Barnes' article The terrorists waging a jihad against joy. Simon Barnes is the award-winning chief sports writer for the Times and his article is at once a tribute to the best qualities of the human spirit as exemplified in sportsmen and women and a denunciation of the worst qualities to be found in that same human spirit as exemplified by terrorists.
For example, in Barnes’ article we read of the cowardice of the terrorists: ‘brave souls prepared to risk a battle against men with cricket bats while armed only with rifles and rocket launchers…’ How this contrasts with the bravery of the cricketers as we read in this article at Yahoo News:

Players recounted their ordeal after getting home early Wednesday.
"We were just hearing bullet after bullet thump into the bus. We were hearing gunshots, a few explosions and you could see bullets sometimes hitting a seat," Kumar Sangakkara said.
Jayawardene, the team captain, said it "was just a constant barrage of bullets. We don't know which direction it was coming from. It was just all over."
The team didn't panic, even when the bullets began finding their mark, coach Trevor Bayliss said.
"Everything was very calm and very quiet, and every now and then someone would say, 'I'm hit,' and then someone else said, 'So am I,' and someone else said, 'I'm hit as well,'" Bayliss said.

In the aftermath of this attack Barnes wonders 'if big-time sport will become a worldwide target. If so, sport as we know it will be changed for ever. Big sporting events as we know them will no longer be feasible. What, then, will the world lose?'

Barnes mentions one big sporting event that could have been a prime target for terrorists, and was not: the Beijing Olympics. For those who are receptive, I think the message the Tibetans sent to the Chinese went something like this:

We could have ruined your Olympics. But we don’t believe in terrorism. We believe in the joy of sport and the beauty of the human spirit. We believe in love. Because…

Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule. Buddha

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Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)

Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)
Kiyomizudera Temple has a large veranda looking out over Kyoto and beyond