Noble competition

Tomorrow we will finally learn who will fill the stands at Greece’s basketball cup final. I do not know many countries that treat a mere sporting event as war. Nor do I know of many countries that brag about being the cradle of sports, in a position to offer lessons in true sportsmanship. We fantasize that we are special; and this fantasy has caused us more damage than any amount of self-deprecation could ever have done. Some said the final should be attended exclusively by school pupils because, as many of us believe, children maintain some degree of innocence and integrity; for they know that losing is simply part of the game, for a basketball match is just a contest between two teams. The problem is that children, precisely because they are our children, are fanatical from an early age. Even at a junior sports level, kids are used to seeing their parents bully the referee and the opponents. Passing on the poison… Last month one game was interrupted in northern Greece after parents started fighting among themselves. Watching a game on television, kids are exposed to a torrent of barbs and sexist comments. And once they are able to read, they can understand all the hate spewed from newspaper headlines. How can we expect them to be innocent when we inject them with our own poison? Others suggested that the gates should open just for season ticket holders – the elite among sports fans. But this overlooks the fact that most of the scuffles usually begin in that part of the stands. If you’ve spent so much money, you feel entitled to vent your anger. And the knowledge that you run no risk, since you are a «somebody,» makes you even more insolent. So I only see one possibility. The final should be attended solely by members of Parliament. Not just because the athletic spirit is in their DNA, but because they enjoy parliamentary asylum. Deputies Ioannis Tsaklidis and Thodoros Karaoglou have already shown the way.

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