Sport has changed.
When I was growing up, weather was rarely a factor. We played soccer (football was something different, because I had yet to discover the wider world) in any weather and on any surface. Only blinding snow could hinder a game of hockey on a pond; my mother often had to drag me home after it was too dark to see the puck. I don’t recall ever feeling the cold, about which she complained. We had too much fun to notice conditions. Later, I attended a private school that could not afford an indoor rink, which meant that we often had to shovel snow before being able to practice. Although we felt sorry for even-poorer schools that had to play soccer on a converted pasture, we felt superior to the rich kids that enjoyed cushy conditions on their covered ice rink. Pasture or ice softened by the sun: the game went on. Now, kids play on indoor ice. Soccer can only be played on manicured fields. I wonder if kids experience the same joy....
What made me think of this? Once again, news from FIFA congress has tried to raise the specter of scandal. Despite a long-standing and stated objective to share the game with all regions (and not play out the competition in the same countries, like England, US, and Germany), many still cannot understand the choice of Qatar as a site for a World Cup competition. It is too small. It is too new to the game. It is too hot. Coddled players can play only under perfect conditions. What happened to the original purpose of the game: to play anywhere, anytime, and under any conditions? Kids play the “beautiful game” in such heat? Why can’t the stars—those worshipped by such kids—compete under the same conditions?
Sport has changed...and not always for the better...
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Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.