Right Field

Wickets for Peace

You won’t see many cricket items in this blog, but yesterday’s India-Pakistan match, which India took by the narrow margin of 29 runs on its home pitch at Mohali (there, don’t I sound like I know what I’m talking about?), had geopolitical ramifications, as these two fierce rivals (in sport and everything else) completed the event peacefully and amicably, with the two nations’ prime ministers watching the action together. Predictably enough, the Obama administration has released a statement praising the match as a diplomatic breakthrough; soon, presumably, we can expect the president (who must be quietly mourning the loss by his beloved Pockystahn) to announce a global sports initiative aimed at building world peace through hitting, kicking, and throwing balls.

That idea would not be entirely crazy, at least to those old enough to remember Richard Nixon’s “ping-pong diplomacy.” Yet sports can also inflame tensions, sometimes even to the point of military conflict, as in the 1969 “Soccer War” between El Salvador and Honduras. Of course, in that part of the world, countries used to fight over just about anything — including bat droppings. Still, as Right Field readers will understand, a sporting event is a good place for any sort of discussion: You sit side by side without having to stare each other in the face, and whenever you don’t feel like talking, you just look at what’s happening on the field. If Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis had just sat down at a baseball game together, that whole Civil War thing might have been avoided . . .

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