Monday, September 29, 2014

Something Wonderful in Incheon

Health, Sports, Recreation, & Fitness ---

You wouldn't know it, but the 2014 Asian Games (the 17th) is currently in progress in Incheon.  You probably don't know it, but Incheon is in South Korea.  Here in the US we are getting our fair share of coverage of all the major sports played here, including coverage of the Ryder's Cup (a golf tournament that pits the Europeans against the Americans, for those of you who don't know), soccer from the many European Leagues, the Australian version of "football", and a lot of other sports involving western competitors.  But coverage of the Asian games on some of the major sports channels?  Nada.  I didn't even know it was happening until I found out about their occurrence on the Internet.  And thanks to the internet and streaming technology I was able to watch some of the games.  In fact, I just finished watching a fantastic game between North Korea and the United Arab Emirates, with NKorea winning 1 - 0.  The North Koreans certainly didn't look like they were from a country in which thousands upon thousands are dying of starvation.  So much for western propaganda.

The Asian Games is an even bigger event than the London Summer Olympics which had 302 events in 26 sports compared to Incheon’s 439 in 36.  Some of the sports featured include Soft Tennis (played with a much softer rubber ball than the one in the tennis with which we are familiar), Karate (not the same as Tae-Kwan-do), Cricket, Wushu (we call it Kung-Fu), and two that I have never heard of before - Kabbadi and Sepak Takraw, two amazing sports.  Kabbadi reminds me of "dog and di bone", a game I used to play as a child.  The exception is that you get tackled in this game, and it also involves having to hold one's breath for a duration of time.  A fun sport to watch.  Sepak Takraw, on the other hand, is a badass sport with some spectacular moves.  It is like a martial-arts form of volley ball in which only the feet are used and in which the ball is "spiked" with out-of-this-world flying and acrobatic kicks.  The Games end on October 4, and that which I have seen so far has been quite a treat.  The competition has been intense, exciting, and entertaining.  By far the high point for me was being able to watch the soccer match between Palestine and Singapore.  

Regardless of where they are played or by whom they are played, Sports display our humanity.  And at the end of the competition a hug, a nod, a hand-shake, an exchange of jerseys all indicate that we can still regard and respect one another.  We should make Sport, not War.

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