Unless you live under a rock, you've likely seen mention of the upcoming 2010 World Cup being held in South Africa this month. Facebook is buzzing with posts and reposts of the Nike commercial - Write The Future - along with some trash-talking and team cheering. ESPN has a page of World Cup posts that then expands to a full page of rumors, blogs, stats, scores, flags and all the latest - they've also come up with some creative commercials, as one would expect.
If you do live under a rock, here are the two commercials and then on to the point.
And this one from ESPN, which leads in to the broader point....
The ancient Olympics were started as a religious celebration to Zeus. It was during this time that all wars ceased - weapons were not allowed in the stadium - and ample time was provided for returning home without fear of attack or provocation. It was a sacred time to honor Zeus with the ultimate of human performance. Since it was believed that Zeus had predetermined the winner, judges were present to gauge the moral and ethical performance - cheating was absolutely not tolerated.
And throughout the years, there have been other efforts to use athletic competition as a way to slowly bridge the gap between war and peace. Consider the article from The Atlantic, "Can Sports Bring World Peace?" that considers the suggestion - with examples supporting and contradicting the statement. Is it fair to place such expectation on competition? Is it reasonable to place such expectations on the athletes?