Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Culture Clubbed

By day's end today the United States may in fact have played its way out of the 2010 World Cup. While I hope that shall not occur - and I think that history might be on our side (we flamed out in '90, did OK in '94, bit turf in '98, showed well in '02 and showed up not at all in '06 so this year appears to be an "ON" year) - at least our national team has shown up in South Africa. Lose or win today, their effort has been genuine.

The host nation's World Cup ended yesterday. South Africa will not play in the knockout round. They are one of two teams in their group who did not qualify for a spot in this Cup's Sweet Sixteen. Yet the squad that is known as Bafana Bafana in its homeland did their countrymen proud. Sports is actually quite a lot like life. The result is often something we cannot control. But the effort we put towards attempting to achieve the result is entirely ours. It belongs to us.

Their tournament is over. The result something short of what they had hoped to achieve. Yet the Bafana Bafana gave all of the home folks something to feel good about. In a land whose history is as checkered and as troubled as that of South Africa, a good feeling that knows no cultural or racial limitations is certainly worth applauding.

The antithesis of the South African story was written by the French. Given France's history, one would have assumed that the French national team putting forth an effort that made its military's effort in World War look positively Herculean would have proven to be Le Mission Impossible. Right about now it is worth remembering what happens when we assume.

If one believes that what goes around comes around, then the French got what they deserved and they deserved what they got in this World Cup. Their ticket to South Africa was hand-punched after all.

Karma is a many-splendored thing; is it not? One might even call it a chameleon.

-AK

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