There is a headline on the front page of the state newspaper this morning which says, "Premier cheats". For a moment I actually hoped that they had finally seen reason with respect to a certain politician but it turned out to be concerned with some football club or other which had been cheating.
I am not sure what the fuss was about. Any 'sport' where millions of dollars are involved, where players are bought and sold like slaves in a marketplace, where more than mere dollars are bet on the outcome of a match, where immense salaries need to be paid to non-playing executives and where there is a general culture of corruption is bound to have some cheats. This is big business. However it is portrayed it is not a game. It is certainly not a friendly game. Television ratings and advertising revenue depend on the entertainment value as much as the supposed skill of those involved.
Yes, there is some skill attached. There is some skill attached to a lot of things but, for some reason, society values the capacity to kick a bit of leather around more highly than most things. It has always been like that. Once it actually mattered. Your very survival depended on your ability to outrun danger or catch your dinner. I would have been dead long ago, if indeed I had survived at all.
Obviously it still matters - but for the wrong reasons. National or state pride should not depend on the ability of a very few to kick a bit of leather around. It should not depend on how many gold medals are obtained at international sporting events - and gaining those should not depend on performance enhancing drugs, other forms of cheating or huge salaries or endorsements.
Further inside the paper there is an article about Juan Antonio Samaranch, late President of the International Olympic Committee. Under his stewardship the Olympics descended even further into a commercial, drug ridden crevasse where bribery and corruption is now rife. How can there be any national pride in participation in something like this.
It is a sort of war - a war we would be better off losing than winning.