Sports Fix (Lite) in Bangkok

The sporting sun, it was (perhaps) humblingly clear from here, does not rise and set on the tubby arse of North American interests! Now, I’ve been living in China for five years, so I knew this already, but on our annual escape southward – this year, Macau, Thailand and Cambodia – I welcomed the greater availability of some of the comforts of my Canadian home. This sometimes means good English bookstores (salute to Chiangmai, Thailand!), and it too often means affordable ice cream and choco-treats whenever I want them (sheepish salute to 7-11 stores, frequent beacons of tawdry hope and sugar lust in all three places). It has also meant limited access to the Winter Olympics; go figure, Thailand and Cambodia don’t much care!

Other evidence of my lingering athletic biases came in a Bangkok waiting room, where, pulse quickening, I noticed an English-language newspaper, that very day’s edition. Yum!

I love Gothic lettering. I love newspapers that have paper, though I’m reluctantly ready for their demise.

It was my second time running across The Bangkok Post, awakening my old jones for newsprint and crinkling pages folded just so. (I am my father’s son, as my mirror also reminds me.) So here’s the score, as reported in the pages of this internationally minded newspaper: (soccer) football 10, all-other-sports 1 (all stats in this report are completely made up). It was a blowout. This baseball/hockey/North American football/basketball chauvinist long ago learned that futbol is indeed a beautiful game and the world’s favourite, and it’s not even close, though basketball has become the number two sporting mania. The Post saw the sporting world, last Friday, like this:

  • Page One: Liverpool wins! Manchester United hasn’t given up yet! Tottenham Hotspur wins! Barcelona wins (again) and will face Real Madrid for the Spanish league title (again)! Napoli beat Roma! And [down in the lower right corner of page 1, a little local pot-stirring about Thai soccer], an English manager denies he’s quitting SCG Muang Thong United! [Olympics? Are you kidding?]
  • Page Two: [Ah. Above the fold, a rundown on the previous day’s events in Sochi, including a photo. Five-Ring Reader’s Digest. Plus…] Round 1 of the Aussie Open

    Barcelona FC.

    women’s golf! Thai golfer [name unspellable] gets a spot in the World Match-Play golf tournament! [Tiger Woods is world number one again? When did this happen? Anyway, with a Thai mother, his mention was obligatory in any case.] Bayern Munich has made the Bundesliga semifinals! [And the football universe is unfolding as it should, or at least as it normally does.] The Thai and Chinese women’s cricket teams [!!] are favoured in an Asian tourney in Chiangmai! [China has a women’s cricket team? (Again: China has everything.) They beat somebody? (Ah. They beat Iran, that notable women’s cricket powerhouse.) Let me say this again: China has a women’s cricket team that

    Not Chinese, not a woman, but it’s certainly cricket.

    wins things. Chinese women’s cricket: where amazing happens!]

  • Page Three: [Good things come to those who wait?] The NBA exists! Blake Griffin and the Los Angeles Upstarts beat somebody, and so did some other teams, as the league gets ready for its All-Star Game! [I can’t get too excited about the NBA All-Star game, but back in China, I was able to watch most of it after a bit of a sleep-in. Blake is watchable, and my, his game is growing, though in a personal 10-dunk game (!!!!)  that development took a decided back seat. I loved the photo caption in the Post, as BG coils for a ferocious throw-down on Robin Lopez: “Blake Griffin goes for a two-point basket.” Really!] There’s a tennis tournament in Rotterdam! Andy Murray is playing again! Thailand is playing Hong Kong in Davis Cup tennis! Li Na wins in round one of the Doha women’s tennis jitney! [Won the Australian Open again, too, which I’d missed hearing about since I was not in China.] An American hero is retiring from that very odd bastard offspring of cricket that the Yanks call “baseball”! [There was a tiny item on this, several days after Derek Jeter announced his farewell tour of the majors this coming season. And then down at the bottom of the page was the fine-print listing of scores and standings. It included an Olympic medal count and NBA information, but it was mainly more football results from the European leagues. And yes, I meant to write “football”, you North American jock xenophobes!]

So, yeah. Not that it was surprising, but it was a good reminder. Not everybody in the world gives a rat’s patootie about NFL off-season firings, mini-camp preparations or pre-combine draft minutiae. Or the boiling world controversy over Canada’s Olympic hockey team selections and snubs. Or which college basketball teams will be invited to “the Dance” of the American college basketball tournament (let alone the infinitely more modest Canadian version of March Madness™). It’s kind of a big world, y’know.    

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