Thursday, August 19, 2004

Soccer and National Unity

Just a quick, unfiltered thought:

Two nights ago, some commentator at the Olympics in Athens said that interest in the games in probably low because no great conflict is being played out. He argued that past games were driven by Cold War competition: US vs. USSR, east vs. west, good vs. evil. He went on to note that al-Qaeda had no Olympic team.

I would disagree. The saga of Iraq's soccer team is such a story. It is not a conflict between different sides (even though they play opponents), but a challenge to succeed despite recent history. Furthermore, it is a challenge to see if the soccer team can act as a symbol of national unity. Don't laugh! The team of the united German nations won the World Cup, becoming a common symbol around which Germans could rally. Arguably, Germans were better off. However, the Iraq team could help to ease the ethnic division, even if for one moment.

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