Sport eases the mind – if only a little – from horror of terrorism

It’s extremely difficult to focus on sports, even when this is imposed by your line of work, in an astonishing era such as the one we’re living in. The frightening terrorist attacks in the USA, which also had an impact on Champions League games in Europe this week, perhaps allow us to deal with these tragic developments in our own way. Certainly, venues that attract great numbers of people, such as sports stadiums, make convenient targets for terrorists blinded by hatred. This means that, from here on, a game that might be described as involving a sort of fatal imagination begins. On the one hand, the terrorists will undoubtedly be planning a new strike, which we will experience at some point, while on the other, organized countries will have to imagine the ways in which the invisible adversaries of free societies might strike. This promises to be a stressful and never-ending marathon which, as its prize, merely offers avoidance of the latest catastrophe. The problem lies not just in determining the object of the next massacre, or whether, next time, trucks carrying dangerous cargoes will be used to destroy their targets, or whether water reservoirs might be poisoned. When blades are used as weapons, you can only imagine what the next strike could entail, and that’s a difficult task. It is easy to criticize those who take security measures when you’re standing outside the field of operations. We are reduced to feeling small and innocuous against a huge and ugly enemy, terror itself. Sporting events offer, perhaps, some limited consolation or at least an opportunity to ease the mind a little from the horror. At Panathinaikos, the club may feel slightly neglected after its impressive, 2-0 away victory against Germany’s Schalke 04 – just hours after the tragedies occurred in the USA -in its opening European Champions League game for the season. Had the disaster not occurred, Panathinaikos’s win would have made headline news in Greece’s media, where sporting events tend to be treated as major stories. The team’s coach, Yiannis Kyrastas, was correct in saying that a victory by Panathinaikos in its next game, at home against Mallorca next week, can prompt talk of qualification for the competition’s next phase.

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