I enjoy football as much as anyone else. But I haven’t watched one world cup game this time. Not only have I been super busy, and could not be bothered to set up my tv for off-cable reception at home,  I somehow just don’t feel like endorsing a lot of what is going on.

Just watching which emotions gets stirred up by this super-hyped up event is a lesson. Having people enjoy and admire athletes perform is uplifting, I won’t deny it. I have a lot of respect for the all the hard training and skill that goes into it.

But there is a more disturbing side to the competition which has now become completely acceptable, many would say inevitable. And I am not even talking about the hooliganism or the strange, vicarious chauvinism of fans rooting for their favourites, invoking God and whoever else they chose to believe in. If anything they could almost be called the victims.

Sure, it didn’t take too long after the Olympics, for example, were re-established early last century for sports to exploited on an internationally political level. Hitler vs Jesse Owens made sure we wouldn’t miss that. But those days were almost innocent compared to now. FDR didn’t even send Owens a congratulation cable, much less an invite to the White House. Imagine today’s White House passing that one up (“No We Can’t”?).

Every four years the networks and sponsors scramble to outbid each other – the payoffs are enormous. Obviously all the fans are a huge cash cow, nothing wrong with that in a free market capitalist world, and I’m sure some North Koreans watched a few games too. And so when the players get huge pay checks, one could argue that’s their due, and it pays off in the level of sheer athletic brilliance it ensures.

The part I don’t get is: where has the sportsmanship gone? Where is the respect to all the fans aside from some inane bubbling in shlock magazines that are more interested in hair styles than anything else? How many Peles are there today?

Are you telling me that it’s too much to expect from someone who is getting paid millions and millions to be aware that they are a role model to the young the whole world around? I can understand that there is a huge pressure to perform, but how does it come that a player has no sense of shame when, literally under the spotlight and watched by billions of people, he kicks someone in the shins, stomps on their leg, pulls their shirt, and whatever else?

Is just winning and gladiatorship really uplifting? There is more respect due for a side that plays well but loses gracefully than a side that wins by playing a nasty game, then races around crowing.

Still trying to make up my mind whether or not to watch the finals.