Benefit of hindsight

On August 19, when Greece faced off against Qatar in its first game in the World Basketball Championship, not too many vacationing Greeks got up at the ungodly hour of 10.30 a.m. to watch. Nor did the next three matches against Lithuania, Australia and Brazil generate much interest. Not even the sports newspapers wasted their front pages on Dimitris Diamantidis or Sophocles Schortsanitis, busy as they were with speculation about transfers of soccer stars, which as usual, never happened. It took the match against Turkey to awaken their sporting instincts, since there are still those who see revivals of the Greek War of Independence on soccer fields and basketball courts. From one victory to the next, they emerged from their lethargy and the congratulations began flying back and forth. Deputy Culture Minister for Sports Giorgos Orfanos outdid himself by presenting the team members in Japan with their bonus checks – in front of the cameras – for winning the European Championship last year in Belgrade. The fact that they did not hand them back only means they were being polite. Their good manners have been much in evidence on the court, never complaining or blaming others, nor boasting about »unbeatable genes.» Unusually, they did not make excuses for losing to Spain. Also unusual is their team spirit and humility. All of the above has been commented on by politicians and television analysts, even those who, forgetting their predictions of the day before, assured us that they «knew this would happen.» Yet it is disappointing that we use rhetoric to honor such worthy attributes, only to ignore them in our behavior. As the ancients used to say, we pay lip service to such things but do not take them seriously.