LONDON, ONT. - Sports organizations have never cared much for being socially aware, socially active and, more importantly, socially responsible.
For as large a part that sports are of the social fabric, organizations and in many ways their fans would rather believe they survive on an island where they live by their rules, their morals and their value system.
These organizations believe that responsibilities, as part of the global picture, belong to someone else. They exist in a toy department, where reality doesnít exist.
When you attempt to impose the rules everyone else lives by or when you plead for governing bodies of sports to acknowledge they have deeper responsibilities, the cry of ďLeave us alone, we are sportsĒ is keened to the high heavens.
It is an embarrassment that can no longer be tolerated.
How difficult is it for organizations like the IOC and FIFA, governing body for international soccer, to change their way of thinking?
It is virtually impossible.
Check the numbers. Russia spent $50 billion on the Olympics.
It is also difficult for millions of fans of sports to commit to a new line of thinking because for them, the spectacle is everything.
For the IOC and FIFA, any kind of change to a more responsible way of selecting countries and limiting the cost of an Olympics or World Cup is anathema to how they operate.
Itís about money, sponsorships, individual gratuities and rewards promised and delivered.
To throw a social component into the mix of selection process or restraint would simply complicate the issue of finding the money. Human rights, poverty and fairness in labour practices have a way of denting the pocketbook.
We wonít even get into the fact the Olympics have become nothing more than a massive jingoist orgasm for major nations to prove whose is bigger. Nations love that.
Does anyone else find it incredibly coincidental that the 2014 Winter Olympics are in Russia, the 2018 World Cup is in Russia, the 2014 World Cup is in Brazil and the 2016 Summer Olympics are in Brazil?
The social and human rights issues in these countries, not the least of which is poverty, is extraordinary, yet FIFA and the IOC somehow handed these countries not one major event but two of them.
It has never been FIFA policy to name the location of a World Cup more than six years before the event. Yet the 2022 World Cup has already been awarded to Qatar. Why?
The men that run FIFA arenít getting any younger and need to get it now while the getting is good.
Hereís just a hint of what FIFA ignored to award the World Cup to Qatar.
The most obvious is the lack of individual rights for gays and women.
The tournament is supposed to be held in summer, when temperatures reach more than 45 C.
Recent official figures showed that 185 Nepalese men died last year in Qatar, and the International Trade Union Confederation has warned that up to 4,000 workers could perish before the 2022 World Cup begins if there are no meaningful reforms to working conditions. Slave labour is building World Cup facilities.
The IOC, FIFA, participating nations, the media, all says the right words about how horrified they are. But itís all words. Too much money is involved.
Countries love to brag about how good their athletes are and the media, well the media loves covering these events and are often the leader in jingoism and complaints when their food isnít just right or they have a lousy hotel room.
It is possible to make a difference. You canít expect it from organizations like FIFA or the IOC to make any significant changes. They are the epitome of the old boysí network
Changes could be made. But then developed nations would have to put aside their own special interests. Most of those nations stepped up in helping to bring down apartheid.
Sponsors would have to step up and refuse to sponsor major events that go to nations a history of human rights violations.
We know thatís not going to happen yet.
But it will because somewhere down the line the World Cup or the Summer Olympics will explode in Brazil or Russia. Riots will happen and dozens will die.
It may not be this year or in two years but it will happen.
Then, no matter how much we try, we wonít be able to deny that our solid silver tournaments are really nothing more than silver plated.