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It's Sunday afternoon, outside is freaking cold, deep bellow zero, Viktor is playing 'Angry Birds' trying to find out how to collect the ultimate egg he's missing in the collection and my wife is watching live tennis match between Serbia and Sweden taking place in our city this weekend. Since I have no better ideas (and available home gadgets I can play with) I thought to open the old laptop and write something 'smart' about international sport and its worldwide importance. Well, on second thought, maybe better idea would be to start reading a book as I am not really a sports kind of a guy and this is not going to be really smart post of mine, but what a hack, at least this way it will stay written for some future reference. So, I wonder how to start this? Let me think...

I know, I'd start with the NHL game I was watching couple of days ago. I have no idea who was playing, I am sure some important teams in the top of the competition but in the end this is not valuable for the story. It was nice watching it in the beginning - the game was smooth, the ice hall was amazingly beautiful filled with lots of people and I witnessed two or three goals performed in great multi-player performances. Like many times before as soon as I started feeling nice about the game (I even opened a beer can) and started comparing modern ice hockey with jazz, two players took off their helmets, got rid of their sticks and started fist fight. I was not confused with the fight, let's face it, sport players are not really rocket scientists, but what was intriguing was all other players and referees didn't interfere at all. Along with amused crowd they watched the fight until one of them started bleeding and falling down on the ice. Only then one referee jumped between them and in a moment I was convinced he did this to save the ice from the blood and not to save the poor man from further suffering. After a while game resumed like nothing happened.

This was a high end sport competition and after couple of centuries of its own evolution it ended into pure business. There is no sport honor driving the sport people - it's the worldwide phenomenon everywhere around the globe. I am from Europe so I will divert the story into European football (or soccer if you will) where if you are a fan and watching its best, state of the art competition, the European Football Championship League you will unlikely fail to notice that every year the same teams are playing it - and to participate the league you have to win the national competition or to be one of first three or four teams. All those teams by some unwritten rule have amazingly and extremely expensive stadiums and their bank accounts are probably items of envy for many many others.

If you are a football fan and live in Milan, Italy or Munich, Germany or Valencia, Spain or Manchester, England you are lucky, every visit to their local football stadiums will provide you a great show with international top players coming from countries worldwide. In order to pronounce all their names properly you would have to perform serious research - they are really coming from all over the world and their paychecks are specially printed in order to have enough room for many zeros. Even though football, being the most popular sport in Europe, is more or less above the highest other team or individual sport, considering money involvement and popularity the similar impression is with basketball, the other football across the Atlantic, tennis, F1 racing, skiing and handful of other popular competitions that attracts lots of supporters.

On the other end of European sport entertainment, if you live in countries like Serbia with no real money involved in national leagues or local sport teams, people experience sport throughout national teams and continental or world competitions, like Olympic games, or perhaps like the tennis match between Serbia and Sweden broadcasting on the TV in our living room right now. The local, recently renewed, sport hall is full to the last chair cheering loudly with lots of enthusiasm and feelings for national players, and I guess this is ok, people here don't have lots of opportunities to watch sport events on this level.

Nobody can steal this moment from the people after the winning point, even those who say they don't follow the sport and don't like it much, secretly enjoy events like this. It's not even the problem if the city capable of organizing the Davis Cup match doesn't have a working movie theater or zoo park or planetarium or valuable science institute, sport is no. 1 and it will always be there. In Serbia this national euphoria in tennis goes one step further - Novak Djoković, currently the best player in the world comes from Serbia and people here perceive his appearance almost unreal - giving him variety of non-tennis credits and calling him the Serbian ambassador in every country he steps in. But this is sport, it gives you extreme popularity and even though your only skill is to hit the ball better than everybody else, metaphorically speaking, you will be greatly remembered while the guy who's the top-notch in many other fields will stay anonymous.

Don't get me wrong here, I do enjoy watching a great game, especially within competitions such as NBA, NFL, EuroLeague and even in Championship League but what I don't get is the entire euphoria outside stadiums. In Serbia in recent years it goes to the unbelievable, inappropriate and preposterous levels with welcoming parties and street celebrations for every little success of national teams. It's a definitely one of a kind phenomenon and I am guessing, more or less, in one way or another, it is the same everywhere else.

However, I need to give sports a great amount of credits - I really think that international competitions are responsible for less amount of wars today. Think about it, if you compare middle age, up to the middle of last century, with modern era today, it seems that people sometimes back in dark ages organized wars in a fashion of a today's sport events. If they had sports back then to compete with their 'enemies', they would probably use baseball bats instead of spears, large swords or cannons. I think this is one of big reasons I admire Olympic games. They are more than sport. I am truly hoping, money and business-fying everything with value will not spoil the core of it.

Original post date: February 2012, Update: November 2015, Update: January 2019

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