As he prepares for his upcoming fight on June 9, renowned boxer Manny Pacquiao talks to Fareed Zakaria about boxing, politics and the possibility of a presidential run in the Philippines.
Related: Opening heart, opening wallet
What do you think? Do sports and politics mix? How does one influence the other? Share your thoughts below.
To my mind, to argue that boxing(or organized sports in general) could or should be separated from politics is essentially a specious exercise- remember the Moscow and Berlin Olympics of 1980 and 1936 respectivley, the controversy surrounding the Mexico City Olympics of 1968( student violence and the controversial "Black Power" salutes by members of the US team), the murders of Israeli athletes in the Munich Olympics of 1972, politically motivated boycotts in 1976, 80 and 84, not to mention apartheid era South Africa's long exclusion from international support?
Indeed politics can spoil the ambiance of the Olympic Games if national resentments and international outcry are instrumentalised to sanction certain participants or boycot the hosts. Russia's invasion in Afghanistan prompted the boycott of the Moscow Olympics in 1980. In 1984 Russia and its allies returned the compliment and stayed away from the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. There are many more similar incidents in the past as well.
As long as sports are commercialised, they will alos be politicised by opponents. Unfortunately sports are expensive events and organisers need sponsorship to finance them. Sponsors are keen to get maximum value – publicity – for money. This attracts other players to take advantage of the venue and the event to have their grievances heard.
If politicans are losing touch with normal people and their problems, people don't go to the polls. They try to express their thoughts in a different way, so sports very often shows a hidden side of society, everybody can spend much time with it. Silvester Stalone was the famous movie-boxer in the eighties, comming up and getting rich and famous. Schwarzenegger followed. He even became a politician. Sports is easily creating heroes to identify with and showing astonishing events, so that people prefer seing a match instead of going to church or doing something else. It's so easy to talk about a sports event. (And so boring, if you can't share the view.) Fans often don't want to think, or hear anything political – it's just a parallel world, they flee. Many fans don't participate in any sports at all and they stay passive. I think the clubs should have a closer look how sport is instrumentalized and commercialized. The heroes are made as ikons, you can buy stickers and picture books as a kid and fill it with your own personal ideals. An easy world of glamour and snap-shots. The side-events are most wanted.... a while... and the next
Bonne continuation et à très bientot !
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Check out all of Fareed's Washington Post columns here:
Obama as a foreign policy president?
Why Snowden should stand trial in U.S.
Hillary Clinton's truly hard choice
China's trapped transition
Obama should rethink Syria strategy
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