Thursday, August 12, 2004

Why the Olympics are worthwhile 

To start, I'm no fan of Iraq (interpret that as you will), but its nice to know that through every travesty and struggle, whether they be political or social, sport can liven the soul. Take Iraq's Olympic soccer team (please). There's a number of reasons why this group shouldn't even be in Athens. Certainly the chaos and war engulfing the nation is chief among them, but also they simply aren't any good. Their qualification to the summer games came through an improbable run of upsets that included knocking off perennial regional power, Saudi Arabia.

And here they are today, upsetting one of the medal favorites, Portugal, 4-2. This isn't supposed to be happening. There's every reason in the world as to why this group should still be in Baghdad. This lone victory over the Portuguese is a relative gold medal. They could -- and probably will -- lose their next two matches, but it won't matter. Their qualification is enough to satisfy. This single win on the field is enough to send all their countrymen into euphoric states of celebration, far distanced from the realm of politics. Often times, people need those distractions. They need those dreams. They need to be reminded that not everything is tragic and that there is still reason to be proud. They need.

It's stories like that which we will all become more familiar with over the next sixteen days. They may not all be as severe as Iraq, but they will all certainly inspire and vitalize our spirit. Personally, I'm cheering for the Italians in soccer. But the Iraqis, hate them or not, are a nice story. What a bonus it must be for them to not have to worry about the tyrannical abuse of ex-sports minister and sub-human, Uday Hussein.

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