Yet, the patriotic jingoism emerging during the World Cup is deeply disturbing. As I sense it, the emotional excesses of nationalism that continue to erupt in this spectacle, like those that increasingly pervade the Olympics these days, are just tragic manifestation of what Spiritual Teacher Eckhardt Tolle terms the "collective ego". As J Krishnamurti notes in the meme to the right, the "us-them" mentality of nationality and religion are a fundamental source of violence. The mind state that is fanned and inflamed and exploited (and commercialized) during these sporting events is the psychic structure that supports ongoing warfare and senseless bloodshed.
It seems to me that it has gotten a lot worse over the years in the culture of sports.
Half a century ago, as a high school athlete, most of my coaches and peers placed a high value on the Olympic Ideal. The three basic principles were excellence, friendship, and respect. Most of us carried that forth in cultivating what was known as "good sportsmanship". In victory and defeat, the opponent was to treated with respect and sensitivity.
In the Ideal, the Olympics were seen as a worldwide community of athletes dedicated to bringing out the best in themselves and one another. The culture was one of comaraderie. The Olympics, after all, had been created to break down barriers among countries, not reinforce our divisions.
As I experienced it, that value was reflected in the culture of small town high school sports back in the early 60's. I never experienced any attempts to humiliate an opponent or a "brawl" with an opposing team. Two of my best friends in high school were guys I first met on the wresting mat as as an opponent from a neighboring town.
I saw that culture shifting dramatically at the '76 Olympics as an American victor in boxing ignored the customary handshake with his opponent as the winner was announced, and grabbed an American flag from a ringside fan to jump triumphantly around the ring to the exuberant shouts of U-S-A U-S-A. The defeated Cuban looked on appearing to be at first confused, then appalled, by the lack of good sportsmanship.
|The Way It's 'Spozed to Be|
As a former NCAA medalist and high school wrestling coach, I have struggled with this for long time now. I love sports and am deeply saddened by the spectacle they have become, a high priced public stage for inflated individual and collective egos, hatred, and jingoism.
Perhaps it's time to boycott them, once again, and place my attention elsewhere.