Dialogue:______read aloud in pairs
A: Do you think it's possible to keep politics out of sport?
B: Not at national or international level.
A: Why not?
B: Well, we can hardly keep politics out of the Eurovision song contest. How are
we meant to keep it out of football, which has a far greater following?
A: I'd certainly agree if you're thinking of the World Cup. Success in such a
major tournament seems to produce a feel-good factor which benefits ruling political
parties. Failure produces the opposite effect.
B: Also, the very act of hosting the World Cup or the Olympics gives a great
boost to tourism because of all the spectators who come to watch their country and the
opportunities to present favourable images to the media. Look how everybody wanted the 2012 Olympics!
A: Yet, there are surely some features of these events that are above politics.
What about the power of the athletes and the artistic beauty of the synchronised swimmers?
B: But why play the gold medalists' national anthems and why wear stars and
stripes on your swimming costumes?
A: A good advertisement for your country is better than one promoting cigarettes or soft drinks.
B: But both have nothing to do with sport.
A: I think you're being too sceptical. Sporting greats such as Pelé and Mohamed Ali
are remembered for their skill, not for their nationality or any product they happened to promote.
B: That might have been the case once, but you forget that mega-stars like Pelé
and Ali were the products. They could pull crowds and make vast sums of money. In Ali's case,
he put a little known African country on the map, highlighted the causes of the draft-dodgers
and Black Muslims and rescued hostages. What could be more political than that?
If you need a more recent example, ask yourself: "What has Mike Tyson done for sport?"
A: He's infuriated women's groups and vegetarian societies. However, Ali
endeared himself to millions of whites and raised the morale of millions of blacks.
You may be right about sport and politics, but it can work both ways.