The green and yellow fringing her dress was certainly no coincidence,and as her fairytale continued into the week,Australia’s exuberant fans made sure Jelena Dokic’s opponents had more than just the tennis to contend with on court. But the ‘home’ support that the Yugoslav-born Aussie player enjoyed in her run to the Australian Open quarter-finals could hardly overshadow the ethnic skirmishes that have blighted the tournament for the second time in three years.
The violence that followed Serb Novak Djokovic’s defeat of Bosnian-born Amer Delic was despite the appeals by the duo to their respective,restive fans. Delic,now living in America,was forced more than once to apologise for the heckling and what was described by his first-round opponent Taylor Dent’s father as “loud,rude and insulting behaviour” from his fans. In 2007,a bunch of antagonistic Croat and Serb fans had to be thrown out of Melbourne Park.
Sport,loved and watched by almost everyone around the world,is not newly discovered as an extremely effective medium to get your point across. Hitler used it to compete with the rest of the world in 1936. The rest of the world got back at South Africa for practicing apartheid in the 1970s by snapping,first of all,sporting ties (economic sanctions were the last and the least).
The start of last year’s Olympic Games had more than enough newsprint and airtime spent on which world leaders chose to take the journey east for the opening ceremony,and for months before that,the run-up to the Games had more stories on political protests during the torch relay,not to mention the exclusive actions that the Chinese authorities,in turn,took trying make us believe otherwise. Who remembers which great athletes were given the customary honour of taking the Olympic torch around the world?
Politicians have owned football clubs,decisions on cricketers’ tours are way too often being made by their governments,streakers know a sports arena is the best idea for maximum visibility,and if you do a little research on the more active area of expertise of the presidents of our sports federations,you would think the politicians have the most well-rounded personalities in Indian society.
But isn’t ‘real’ world out there already bad enough to infringe on what is potentially one of the more integrating of social structures? Doesn’t the never-ending supply of feel-good stories that sporting events offer more than outweigh the allegations of escapism?
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