Sunday, March 18, 2007

Real March Madness


While we gamely celebrate the exploits of the likes of Vanderbilt and VCU in the Men’s NCAA Basketball Championship (and John and I cheer on the Tar Heels!), let’s spare a thought for a real upset in an international sports championship half a world away.

In the Cricket World Cup, Ireland defeated Pakistan. On a Saturday which was also (quite fittingly) St. Patrick’s Day.

Pakistan is a powerhouse on the international professional cricketing scene. The Irish team, on the other hand, is that rarity which has virtually disappeared from the whole American approach to 'serious’ sports – the Irish cricket team is composed entirely of part-time, unpaid amateurs.

That means Irish team members do not make their trade at the sport. They are doctors and farmers and laborers. They do what they do for the love of the sport, and for the honor of representing their country.

Half a world away in geography, maybe. But many lifetimes removed from what we have become in America, without a doubt.

To put the Irish achievement in perspective, imagine your local community college putting together a basketball team of adult part-timers, and that team then taking out Ohio State in the NCAA Championship. That’s the equivalent.

So, let’s celebrate what a team of ordinary guys, in true blue-collar, gritty fashion, can actually pull off.

But let’s also view their success as a triumph of real human spirit and soul over the co-option of human endeavor by selfish, professional greed – a living example of what a few good men can do in the face of a society that says, it can’t be done, because corporatism wins over humanity every time.

And let’s see it as a good omen for what we in America can achieve, after the next Presidential Election, on behalf of the 50 million of our friends and neighbors who still live below the poverty line.

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