- This is one raging question that keeps cropping up quite often whenever an international sporting event appears on the horizon. Since time immemorial, it has been firmly believed that sports always ensure camaraderie, bonhomie, and, of course, fierce and unadulterated competition in the field of play, but in the end, whatever animosity—perceived or otherwise—would not mar relationships. This premise has stood the test of time and continues to be a beacon of hope for several warring nations wishing to annihilate each other. History shows any number of instances when sporting rivalry in the playing arena has brought the fiercely warring countries to the peace table, bowing to the concerted pressure exerted by the peace-loving countrymen.
- Not for nothing, it is said that the power of sporting exchanges possesses an inherent strength to overcome the fierce rivalry of yore. This being the case, why do certain historically at-odds countries still wish to bring politics to sports when a simple acceptance to separate the issue might prove more beneficial? Indeed, the politics and parochial considerations governing politics don’t allow the warring factions to extend the hand of friendship, even if the popular support of the common citizens always wishes for peaceful coexistence. Perpetually keeping the pot boiling serves the purpose of some wishing to stay in the news despite the humongous expense and unquantifiable losses to lives and properties wrought out by the unyielding war.
- Yes, there might be valid questions raised by die-hard patriotic citizens: what is the necessity of extending a hand of friendship when the other side always foments trouble by perpetrating acts of terrorism? Valid arguments indeed, no questions asked. We have a neighbor right across the Western border who is hell-bent on fomenting terrorism-related heinous activities where several innocent lives are lost. It is one thing that the two neighbors have stopped bilateral diplomatic relations owing to the cross-border terrorism perpetrated by Pakistan. There is no way India will be at the receiving end of extending the hand of friendship when Pakistan nonchalantly indulges in creating disturbances by sponsoring terrorists to strike at will.
PC: Unnikrishnan G
- However, allowing sporting exchanges at least during the multilateral events would help build some amount of trust to compensate for the complete lack of political and diplomatic-level confabulations. Recently, the group stage finale of the Asian Champions Trophy Hockey saw us play Pakistan in Chennai, India. Sure, the crowd supported the Indian team during the match itself. But it was welcoming to the visitors too, coming up in a huge round of applause after their national anthem. Athletes are pawns in various geopolitical faceoffs, but the Chennai crown reminded everybody that this is not sporting at all.
- Recently, the Pakistan football team also visited India. Of course, cricket is a religion in both countries. Pakistan will visit India for the ensuing World Cup, and the much-anticipated match between the arch-rivals coming up in Ahmedabad will be no less than an exhilarating experience for everyone. Sports excellence represents a very inspirational and unifying kind of human flourishing. Making it less lessens us all. That’s the power of sports. Let’s embrace it.