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Gold, Gold, Gold!

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on August 11, 2008

Sweden’s Women’s Olympic Soccer Team lost to China 2-1 yesterday. Naturally it was no fun for the Swedes. It was the first game of the preliminaries. Yes, you got that right – the first game of the preliminaries. From what I read in today’s Dagens Nyheter (Today’s News) you would think that they lost the finals. The sports journalists are calling for the team captain to be chucked out and the coach to be fired.

For crying out loud! It was the first game of the preliminaries! They still have another two games to play. They don’t have to win their group to qualify for the quarter finals.

Here is what really went wrong with the game on Sweden’s part: China is extremely good at long and middle distance shots. They are also very good at positioning their forwards to receive those long and middle distance shots. Yesterday they used their long and middle distance shots, and managed to land two of them behind the Swedish goalie. The Swedish Captain worked her butt off to organize the midfield to destroy Chinese chances at using their prime weapons. As a captain there is only so much you can do to fix things, and if your team-mates don’t listen, don’t do their job and if the defense doesn’t adjust their position placement to match that of long and middle distance shots, there is no way in hell that one woman can succeed whatever she does. After all, soccer is a team sport, not a one-woman-show.

Olympic Games really pull out the worst in sports commentators and journalists. The Olympics is supposed to be fun for the athletes, be they old pros or newbies. Yes, of course they all want to get that elusive GOLD, but, as the old saying goes – “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”, accurate and constructive assessments of the athletes performances and encouragements when they falter will do more to bring home those coveted gold medals, than calling for their dismissal and termination.

How does this tie in with China and Human Rights? Well, the saying: “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” applies to how we treat China. It’s one thing to be opposed to how China violates Human Rights – we should be – but political change is a process, and it’s not done easily, it needs planning, slow progress and in some cases the old generation of politicians has to die and be buried before any visible progress can be made.

I watched a French documentary about Deng Xiaoping, Mao’s successor, the other day. It was very educational, because it showed how China has in fact been on the road to democracy and openness since Deng Xiaoping took over from Chairman Mao. Deng Xiaoping opened Chinese commerce for market economy, allowing for private ownership and entrepreneurial exploration within Chinese economy. It is true that opposition to the Communist Party was forbidden and still is, but I cannot help but see the parallels to the old Soviet Union and it’s last Leader, Michail Gorbachev, and the process of bringing the Eastern Block into a modern world. My wife pointed out to me that the Olympics in Berlin 1936 preceded the fall of the Third Reich with 10 years, the Fall of the Soviet Union happened within 10 years of the Olympics 1980 in Moscow, if we are to believe this “predictional” time line, Communist China will fall within 10 years of this year’s Olympics in Beijing. One thing is for sure – if this happens, China will be far better prepared, politically, socially and financially than both Germany and the Soviet Union were.

Henric C Jensen


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