Saturday, January 9, 2010

Have you ever wished that someone terribly annoying (yes yes, I know) would take a hike down a long narrow never-ending road, and not turn back? There are endless candidates that could find themselves the lucky recipient of this dubious honour. And that’s just in the world of sport. This week, for example, we had the perfect bunch to take out this magnificent opportunity. None other than John Minto and his fellow protesters who decided to park themselves outside the ASB arena in Auckland, where Israeli tennis player, Shahar Peer, was competing.
These caring souls, having decided that Israel is mistreating Palestine citizens, thought that the world should be made aware of what they perceived to be crimes against humanity. Apparently Minto and his cohorts have found a way to portion all of the blame for this on Peer. Yep, not only is she responsible for the Palestinians not having their own state, one presumes that if she is solely the cause of this, she is more than likely the evil doer behind the hole in the ozone layer, world poverty and more than likely the twin towers collapsing. How she finds time to train for and compete in tournaments, what with all these other sins she is clearly the perpetrator of, is beyond me. Quite the rap sheet really.
I stand to be corrected on this, but I have this sneaking suspicion that Peer was in Auckland competing as an individual. Not, as the protesters have conveniently forgotten, for her country. This was not a teams event where one represents a country or even a company. Her country’s government did not instruct her to play. She made that decision for herself.Presumably, unless it is the federation cup where she is representing her country, the rest of her time is spent travelling the globe competing as an individual. Meaning she does not speak on behalf of the Israeli government's policies. Peer can hardly be blamed for being born in a certain country; it’s not as if she had any say in the matter. A powerful forehand she may have, but I severely doubt she has any say in her country of births foreign policy. Or any policy for that matter.
One may have had some sympathy for them if they were attacking a country's policies, but to take it out on an innocent individual is where they have taken have got it so wrong. The protesters could just as easily have parked themselves outside the Israeli embassy, made their point and still get all the publicity their little heart’s desire. And the right people will be more likely to get the message. Not innocents such Shahar Peer.
Sad then that these nutjobs, that clearly are in need of developing a hobby or even better getting a job, have felt the need to do their utmost to ruin the enjoyment of many of the fans, as well as making life harder for innocent players. It seems they will go to any length to get their point across.
There was the bizarre case of one protester being arrested up a tree. Perhaps if the offender had fallen off the tree, it may have knocked some sense into him. Here's hoping anyway. The fans that paid good money to watch the tennis had the right to expect to do so in peace and relative quiet(apart from the odd grunt, of course). Not harassed by what are more than likely a gathering of professional whingers. There were numerous arrests made by police during the weeklong event and Minto was slapped with a trespass order denying him the chance to go with five hundred metres of the stadium. But don’t worry Johnny boy, there will be no trespass notice to stop you and your like from taking on that long narrow never-ending road.
That Peer managed to find her way through to the semi-finals speaks volumes for her mental toughness. To block out the constant noise and abuse from the protesters was a mighty effort. In fact it was some of her opponents that were complaining about the distractions, not Peer.
Politics and sport, in an ideal world should not mix. The world however is clearly not perfect as it seems to have inhabitants that take it on themselves to police the planet. Whether they be right or wrong, the likes of Minto and his merry band of minority supporters will always feel the need to force their beliefs on the rest of the population
That being the case, please Johnny boy, step up to the mark, do New Zealand a favour and start that hike along the long narrow never-ending road that now confronts you.
Oh, by the way, don’t turn back.

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