Tuesday, November 1, 2005

An Olympic Special! Two Koreas for the Price of One!

Sports is what it is.

It's people competing.

People have always tried to make it out to be something more, though.

Even on issues like war and peace, sports is often viewed as "more than a game." Teddy Roosevelt once called sports "the moral equivalent of war" The countries of Honduras and El Salvador once made a soccer game an excuse for war. The Olympics were ostensibly founded to give nations a peaceful way to compete. The Nobel Prize committee even once awarded a medal to FIFA for promoting peace.

And that's not counting number of times sports has been used in this country to justify racism or civil rights, or the number of misty-eyed accounts of how the "Miracle on Ice" turned the U.S. around in 1980 and was a victory against communism. (never mind that the U.S. had beaten the Russians hundreds of times before in other sports, and the Russians had beaten us hundreds of other times.)

So pardon me if I don't attach the same kind of gushing romanticism to the news that North and South Korea are looking to field a single team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics as others do.

Olympic competition failed to stop either World War. Six Olympic competitions (2 winter, 4 Summer) were wiped out due to World Wars I and II.

5 decades of international competition between the Soviet Union and United States did nothing to stop the Cold War. If anything, the most progress was made during the eight years where they boycotted each other's Olympics.

And as many "statements" as black athletes like Fritz Pollard, Jesse Owens, Joe Louis, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, and others have made, racism is still an issue in this country.

So, frankly the chances of a unified Korean Olympic team solving a 60-year old border dispute where only an armistice (not a formal peace treaty) and an aptly misnamed "demilitarized zone" is keeping the two sides apart is pretty slim. And if the Olympics couldn't move the doomsday clock back one tick, don't expect one Korean Olympic team to suddenly make the peninsula nuke-free.
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