International Incident, 50 Years Ago

In my public middle school (back when public schools were often very good) were two boys from the Middle East. One was Israeli; the other, I somehow never learned his nationality. They may have been diplomats’ kids, for all I knew.

But every so often, one would appear at recess with a soccer ball in his hand, and they engaged in the following loud ritual exchange:

FILTHY ARAB!

DIRTY JEW!

The public ritual over, with no further words, they adjourned to the field for a bit of one-on-one. Soccer was seldom played in America in those days, and both of them wanted to keep up their skills.

If only all international incidents could be so easily resolved…

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Comments

  • jams o donnell (Shaun Downey)  On Thursday February 16, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    On the other hand don’t forget that football violence has precipitated a war between Honduras and El Salvador.

    While the idea of using football to resolve world conflicts appeals I think cricket would be better. Earring factions should be made to don whites and play a five day test match. Key members of the political and military classes from both nations should be made to watch.

    Given that many test matches end in draws even after five days, the spectators will have been numbed into such torpor by the sheer dullness of the game I am sure they would be prepared to settle their disputes just to escape!

    • Steve  On Thursday February 16, 2012 at 9:47 pm

      Shaun, the boys’ procedure clearly worked only because they knew each other and had established some level of friendship elsewhere than on the playing field. I do not know where they knew each other… both seemed very bright; that’s why it occurred to me that they might be children of diplomats stationed in Houston… but I agree with you that football (soccer) is a unifying agent only if there is some other basis for good relations as well, and could well lead to havoc in crowds of fans of clubs of different nations, as obviously happened between Honduras and El Salvador.

      An afterthought: I love the mysteries of Dorothy L. Sayers. But when I encountered a detailed description of how her character Lord Peter Wimsey saved the match for his cricket club, I read at most three paragraphs into it before I skipped to the end. My only excuse is that I find American baseball just as boring… but at least I usually know what is going on.

    • upyernoz  On Friday February 17, 2012 at 7:42 am

      cricket won’t work because no one outside of the british commonwealth can make any sense of the game.

  • jams o donnell (Shaun Downey)  On Saturday February 18, 2012 at 6:42 am

    I can assure you that many people INSIDE the Commonwealth cannot make head nor tail of it either… THat said one team that is making waves in the cricket world is Afghanistan. I kid you not there. Outside the test nations (England, West Indies, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Zim, Aus and NZ) ii tis now one of teh best teams, alongside Ireland Kenya, Netherlands and Canada

    • Steve  On Saturday February 18, 2012 at 10:49 am

      Thanks for the quick overview, Shaun.

  • jams o donnell (Shaun Downey)  On Saturday February 18, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    The problem with Afghanistan is that they play the one day game which angries up the blood. They need to be made a test nation immediately. THat will dull the Taliban in to a soporific state!

    • Bad Tux (@badtux99)  On Saturday February 18, 2012 at 10:51 pm

      My understanding is that typical cricket matches last longer than many wars, one of the Indians at work mentioned a cricket match that took four (!) days… not that I understand cricket one bit, mind you, other than that the Indians at work get mightily upset when the Pakistani team wins a game, and vice-versa :). I can see how this would somewhat quell the enthusiasm of the soccer toughs, they would fall into a sopoforic slumber long before getting up the enthusiasm to riot :).

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