Games And Sports Unite... Or Divide

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Pablo Edronkin

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A couple of decades ago, two countries in Central America went to war because of a football match; Honduras and El Salvador waged a real war because of the way in which twenty two men with a round ball and a referee could not play well. Not exactly what one would expect from a friendly match.

It is a true fact of history: there was a war known as “The Football War” just because an international match, and while some may think that such a thing would be expected in the case of two third world countries, games sometimes divide and cause antagonisms instead of bringing people together.

Restlessness appears when a referee gets something very wrong, but from there to actually wage war there is quite a distance; however, it happens. The issue is that the situation prior to such a match should be tense, and the unfolding developments in the stadium can serve as a dangerous catalyst. The last drop in an already full glass.

That is not what games and sports exist for, but whenever a game is arranged to ease tensions between people, events such as these should be remembered, for in such situations fairness and equanimity become paramount in order to make the game work as a peace bringer instead of as a dangerous explosive being toyed with.

Referees and rules are always necessary, and competitive activities require them especially hard because of their own nature. Games such as football in any of its versions – the "real" and traditional one from England, Rugby, Australian or American football, etc. – are very competitive yet simple to play. So whenever such an event is scheduled among people that may hold grudges, special care must be taken.

Other games useful to bring less people together are those that can be played at a table by more than two individuals: chess is an interesting game, but just for the two contenders. Not many would be interested in looking as spectators a chess game in a camp, as it gets dark and cold. A poker or baccarat table may be different; other games such as Monopoly may be good too, but backpackers and others who experience space and weight constraints may not find them practical.

However, cards are easy to take with; rules of card games are generally simple and you don’t have to bet money in order to play. Of course, betting adds spice, but some folks may find that a little bit intimidating, so whenever you think of such a table game to bring others together, make it easy for everyone.

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