a star in a black night

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A week ago, after being a way for fortnight I read through the papers becoming increasingly weighed down by the escalation of wars and crimes against humanity that has been in motion recently. I got to the sports section and saw with some relief that there was an article on the Commonwealth Games. My heart strengthened for a little, surely here was something to be celebrated, surely the symbolism of nations coming together in mutual respect, competing and honouring one another’s athletes was something that could bring a little hope in an otherwise black night in the world? Oh, how wrong I was!

I waited a few days for my next paper to arrive, after digesting the continuing downward spiral of events across our world I came to the sports section and (always the optimist) I hoped again. This time I was encouraged by slightly more positive reporting by someone who had obviously actually been there, but again slapped down at the final couple of paragraphs.

I get it. To those who love sports for sports sake and value the various international opportunities for nations to gather and spar against each other, the Commonwealth Games are to the Olympics what the miss-fits corner is to the ‘in crowd’s’ end of year celebration. This was painfully obvious from the articles I read. In my line of work sporting events can be deeply symbolic, amongst many things they are an opportunity to remind nations and our global community what we, humanity, are like when we are at our best. Sportsmanship at its most basic provides a model for relating and co-existing that can bring cohesion whilst respecting diversity. I was deeply disappointed that the reporters missed a moment when they could have used their passion and expertise in sports to bring a voice of leadership and hope. Instead of looking up and around, and reading the moment, they kept their focus near and shallow and so seemed a little out of touch.

For me it was wonderful to witness Glasgow city open her arms and heart wide to welcome the nations of the Commonwealth to partake of her hospitality. I had travelled to Glasgow a few times in the months leading up and honestly had wondered if the city was even aware of the approaching games! … but all in good time! Two weeks of competition, celebration and unprecedented sunshine both the city and the weather conspired to surprise us all. I got to hang out with charities and churches putting on local community events so those who couldn’t afford tickets to the stadiums could still take part of things. From the competitions themselves to the opening and closing nights’ celebration and the community engagement amongst the disenfranchised, this was a breath of fresh air in a world at war, civil war, genocide and persecution; a reminder that despite our often major ideological differences, if we all play our part, it is possible for us to be together in mutual respect and celebration.

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