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Doctor recommended for optimal cerebral hygiene 

Go, Iraq!

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

With my 40th birthday on the horizon (August 28th), it is with no small degree of urgency that I visit the gym everyday on my lunch hour. My sense is that, in order to be the kind of active person I desire to be in my latter years, I must enter my 5th decade with a lot of momentum, working out regularly, participating in my favorite physical activities (listed here in no order of preference purely for entertainment's sake: cycling, hiking, paddling, softball, sex), and eating a balanced diet. My Father-in-law is a great role model for me. He's in his late 60's and plays golf, softball, and volleyball regularly. In fact, if you factor in his age, he basically kicked my ass for hours playing volleyball recently. He wasn't better than me necessarily, but he was no more exhausted than I was when we were through, and he was playing on a knee that was already scheduled for arthroscopic surgery.

As of late, however, my inspiration has come from the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. At the gym there are numerous TV monitors and I've really been enjoying watching the games for the first time in many years. There's something so satisfying about working up a serious sweat while watching the world's best athletes compete on such a world stage. Call it living vicariously, I don't really give a damn. Very few things compare to watching these young men and women who have trained so hard, dedicated themselves so thoroughly to the pursuit of excellence, reaching the moment of truth and their turn in the spotlight. And, nothing compares to watching the Iraqi football team - yes, that's 'football' instead of 'soccer'.

This is why it REALLY PISSES ME OFF to read shit like this:
For the past week the campaign to re-elect George W. Bush has been running a television advert in America seeking to attach the US administration's "war on terrorism" with the participation of Iraq and Afghanistan in Athens. "Freedom is spreading through the world like a sunrise," intones a portentous narrator as the flags of both countries flutter. "At this Olympics there will be two more free nations and two less terrorist regimes."

Cue stirring music, followed by the hard sell: Vote Bush-Cheney.

Fortunately, Lawrence Donegan of The Guardian follows that up with:

The first temptation is to reach for the TV remote with one hand and the sick bag with the other...

Rather than meekly accepting their designated role in Bush's re-election campaign - plucky foreigners saved by political colossus - members of the team reacted furiously when they were told their success had been appropriated by a man whom one player described as a mass-murderer. The team's coach Adnan Hamad yesterday told reporters: "We do not have freedom in Iraq, we have an occupying force. This is one of our most miserable times. Freedom is just a word for the media."
After the Iraqi victory over the Australians on Saturday, an American broadcaster casually said something to the effect of, "Tears of joy for a change for the Iraqis." I watched the footage of fans cheering in the Pyramid of Egypt Cafe in Athens, Iraqi expatriates who fled to Greece from their perennially war-torn country. I watched the players on the field giving it their all, knowing full well that they otherwise might be fighting for their lives back home. May peace come soon to the people of Iraq.

It was sad to watch the Iraqi's lose to Paraguay Tuesday, but at least they have a shot at the bronze when they face Italy on Friday, and at the very least they have made it farther in these 2004 games than they have ever made it before. Also, if they were going to lose, at least it was to Paraguay, whose win was well deserved, assuring them of their first ever Olympic medal.