As the day went on further details were released, politicians made statements, and pundits predicted the possibility of a third intifada, I merely kept an eye on the news and went about my business like anybody else. I got a haircut, did my laundry, bought some groceries, and ate dinner, but then a piece of news came across the wire that really hit home for me as both a temporary resident of Israel and a cyclist.
According to a Turkish newspaper, an Israeli cyclist was attacked during the Cycling Tour of Trakya. While, the article does not mention the name of the rider, I gather that he is a member of the Tel Aviv Cycling Club and in all probability, I've raced against him, passed him on the road some weekend or we may just have some mutual friends. Regardless, it does bring home a reality that reminds one of far worse events that have happened to Israeli athletes. With two of my Israel Go Pro teammates currently abroad as I write this and I wonder, will they also have to deal with the fallout out on the road as they ride and race?
Furthermore, the attack on the cyclist and U-18 Israeli and Turkish soccer teams cancelling their upcoming friendly, I can't help but think about how real the news is for Israelis and Israeli athletes. While at home in the States, I am given the luxury of military exercises happening on the other side of the globe. And thanks to the brute strength of the United States' influence in all arenas, our athletes hardly get anything beyond a few protesters. Whereas the recent events happened off shore, just a few hours drive from where I sit, and athletes I know, can fear for their safety.
But for me, the most daunting aspect of this attack is when politics enters the world of sport. While I am not a fool, I am fully aware that no sport is impervious to global politics. I have always thought of sport as the one place where politics did not belong. Say what you will about a government; athletes, like all other citizens of any country are not the government. And it should go without saying that violence should not be considered a good form of protest. As it says in the bible "violence only begets more violence." As naive as it is I hope that in this modern world, where communication is so paramount in our daily life via the social networking, e-mail, fax, phone, etc... that maybe, just maybe, we could discuss issues, keep sport as a wonderful distraction, and a be positive way for countries to interact and deal with political and cultural tension.