Sports common bond for cultures, countries

Philip Martin

Philip Martin

Philip Martin

There are certain things that can improve relations among people and countries.

One of these things is diplomacy, or just being interested in someone’s life. I can say from personal experience that when you add a sport into the mixture, things can sail along smoothly.

When I was in Belarus for spring break, I had the opportunity to spend four days in a small village called Garadischae. There was some trouble there for us, but one game of basketball worked wonders.

When we got to the school to teach computers, we were told no talking about religion.

Jeff Reed, from Southwest Baptist University, and I met the class and talked the first day, later that evening the students from the school showed us the town and invited us to play basketball with them on Thursday.

The next day we taught computers, and we were worried that we may not get the children into the church. Basically, because of all the rumors they have heard about Baptists, they have never entered a church before.

That night we showed up to play basketball. Reed, Dima, our interpreter; and I were the captains of three teams.

I would just like to take this time and say that I cannot play basketball whatsoever.

My kind of basketball is half court, dribbling is optional and hardly ever done, and the only rule is: no blood, no foul. So when we played full-court basketball with dribbling and the out-of-bounds markers enforced, I was not ready.

Of course, my team lost a couple of times. We actually won one of the games, but all I did was walk up and down the court and pass the ball every time I got it.

As I said before, I cannot play basketball.

But without that night of playing, I don’t think we would have been able to get that group of teen-agers into the church. We invited them to come to the service Friday, and they came because of one game of basketball.

I am not alone in using sports to help what I was trying to accomplish.

The United States has used pingpong to open diplomatic relations with China. It is pretty impressive. If a simple game of pingpong can open a door between countries, then why can we not use baseball to help lift the trade embargo against Cuba?

Everyone knows Fidel Castro loves baseball – let us use that to lift the embargo.

We should lift the embargo, it serves no purpose anymore.

Sorry I got political on you, but we should use more sports to help with things like that. It’s been proven effective before with China and in personal lives all over the world.

Let us use sports as a way to deter problems with other countries.

I believe wholeheartedly that a simple bumper-car ride with all world leaders can work out some of the world problems. Not all of them, just most of them.

The rest of the problems is what foosball’s for.