The Politics of Sport
I was an uncoordinated athlete, although I did play sports, quite poorly. My best sport in retrospect if, in fact, it is a sport was pool or billiards. That was due probably to the environment where the game was played. The opposition was mostly intoxicated and I still think that the buzz enabled me. In any event while being a poor athlete I was a most avid fan to the point of fanaticism. My fandom was never predicated on the skill of an athlete or the team, but on the politics predicated entirely on geography. I was and remain a local fan invariably supporting the teams where I live. I broke barriers of many recognized team sport fans as dictated by experts by being a fan of both the Metropolitans and Yankees, Giants and Jets, Knickerbockers and Nets, Rangers, Islanders and even the Devils. Soccer was largely an anathema for me although I participated, once again poorly, because every Ukrainian youngster had to in a Ukrainian environment.. As far as soccer or football fandom was concerned I supported the United States and detested the Soviet Union and America’s enemies. Ukraine’s independence brought me a new level of football fandom. I support Ukraine invariably and nationalistically, quite subjectively, and relish equally the losses of its political enemies. And Ukraine, in my view, has many enemies. Thus if Ukraine wins I am very happy. I am equally exuberant when Russia, Germany, France, Poland or Hungary lose. As you can see I am a student of history. The Czechs and Slovaks have become irrelevant since the partition and Romania is not of much concern. Serbs are disliked because I view them as Russian allies. For example, I dislike all Serbs in the National Basketball Association and favor Croats, Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians. Clearly China is despised for its human rights record. I despise communists in sports even though I have been wrongfully maligned as such by ignorant Trumpsheviks. Not all Trumsheviks are athletes so there is no explanation for them. Euro 2020 has been a welcome adventure. While Ukraine itself never fails to disappoint, yet sometimes it lucks out. Sure it beat only North Macedonia, yet made it to the knockout round. Were it not for NATO and Euro 2020 no one other than North Macedonians would know there was a North Macedonia. What happened to South Macedonia? After all there was a Philip of Macedonia, not North Macedonia, the father of Alexander the Great. In any event Ukrainian strikers Yarmolenko and Yaremchuk are not my heroes. They have left me disappointed. Yet Euro 2020 has provided several moments of great joy, mostly predicated on hatred, which the longer I live in my mind equates with love: Russia’s loss 1:4 to Denmark and elimination, the elimination of Poland and Hungary. The unfortunately missing elimination of France and Germany would have been cause to celebrate as well, but that perhaps was too much to ask for. I prayed but, I suppose that God listens to the prayers of other nationalities as well. Ukraine now through sheer luck enters the knockout stage. They play the Swedes. While victory over Sweden would not be as sweet as if Ukraine had defeated the Russians or the Poles or the Germans, nevertheless, I will take it. I may not be an athlete, but I am not entirely stupid, probably because I am not an athlete. The Swedes owe us. After all we relied upon them at Poltava in 1709. They let us down. I am disregarding, of course, Ukrainian traitors and Tatar deserters. But, that is what fans do. So, LET’S GO UKRAINA!, It’s payback time for the disappointment at Poltava. No one can tell me that there is no politics in sport.
June 24, 2021 Askold S. Lozynskyj