So I figured I had to get around to this. Since I do work in sports after all...
The World Cup is here. The multi-millionaire players complain about everything, while taking theatrical dives after seemingly being feather touched by an opponents boot. They blame the balls, the officials, South African horns and delinquent blades of grass. This sport is not played by men anymore. The game lives on the embellishments from slick TV production coupled with media and sponsor generated sexing up. What are the chances that Asian bookies have already reached the World Cup? After all billions are spent by Asian punters on football games.
When you know what goes on behind the scenes of sports, it has not been easy to embrace the romance of the game. This is where I look to others around me and realize that sports unites, in spirit and in hope.
The other night when walking through the darkened mall with the Kuantan Rescue Rangers after a screening of Prince of Persia, we passed by an exhibition in the main concourse area. Someone had hooked up the TV to the satellite feed and the Nepali security guards, Bangladeshi cleaners and curious cinema goers all huddled in front of the TV watching 22 men chase a ball in the African sunshine. Yesterday at Time Out pub, cooks from China, a Myanmar waiter and a guard from Nepal stand anxiously outside the bar watching Switzerland embarrass the Spanish on the pub television set inside. Inside, Malaysia pilots, accountants, a banker and some other white collared drinkers cheer on the Swiss as the betting crowd had put money on the under dogs.
I have always maintained that sports unites. So does beer. And exotic dancers in a Thai disco.
Sports unites. Unfortunately money corrupts more. Players are spoilt and greedy. The bookie influence stands like a quiet shadow in the corridors of the football world. Ticket scams leave stadiums with empty seasts when on paper they have been sold out.
I'm banking on the romance of the game. Asian pride yo. I want the North Koreans to win one game. I want to believe that out there there will always one David who will slay a Goliath. I want Kim Jong Ill to let the Koreans watch their team on television and stop being an idiot who thinks majestic rallies are enough to unite a country. The North will fight to make a game of it all. I believe South Korea will fight to win one game at a time, quietly hoping to reach the Semis. The Japanese though seem to still live in the Koreans shadow in football.
I'm in for Brazil. Football is a better place if a Brazilian hand lifts the cup. No matter if Dunga wants to play defensive, you can never take the joy of play that comes from within a Brazilian player to enchant a ball from anywhere in the field. When you show magic to the world, the world hopes and dreams.
We need that. More dreams. More reasons to stop us from barreling down a path to stoic conformity and mundane uniformity to what has been dictated to us by governments, self serving media and selfish agendas of people far and near.