What if there were wars without death, conflicts without bloodshed and universally recognized resolutions to all international disagreements? Wouldn't that be just swell? Well, my dearreaders, it might just be possible if world leaders would only turn their eyes to the pitch, the diamond, the arena.
Over the past year, the world has been blessed with two of the most recognizable and enjoyable displays of combative nationalism known to humankind. In February, we had the Winter Olympics and now we have the soccer World Cup. In both cases, countries rally around their teams with an unmatched fervor. Even humble, soft-spoken Canadians were dancing in the streets, goading American friends and enemies and singing the national anthem after we brought home Olympic Gold in men's hockey. It was a truly shocking occurrence.
My question is, who did this hurt? Aside from a couple hundred thousand killer hangovers, no one. There was no blood, and the only tears were joyous. It was a nation revelling in victory and superiority. So why do we limit this type of conflict to month-long events held every four years? Why don't we take steps toward an unprecedented paradigm shift, rendering war obsolete and replacing it with athletic competition?
Just imagine: Instead of Germany marching on Paris, leaving thousands dead in their wake to kick off their drive for European domination, there could be a home-and-home soccer match between the French and German sides played at the Stade de France and Olympic Stadium in Berlin. The winner would be decided based on aggregate score with away goals as the tie-breaker. Surely a soccer riot with hundreds of injuries and a handful of deaths is preferable to either World War.
Another example? Something more contemporary perhaps?
There is currently a great deal of tension on the subcontinent. India and Pakistan are staring each other down, arguing over who has the biggest missile. Come on people, why can't we settle this in a civilized manner? Perhaps a three-day cricket test match between India and Pakistan with the victor being awarded Kashmir. No fallout, no mass destruction, no millions of casualties and, best of all, no American intervention. Americans just don't understand cricket.
While the necessary shift in prioritization is radical and long term, the benefits are such that it is foolhardy not to proceed. Obviously, minimizing death and destruction is the most apparent gain humanity would make, but let's look at it from a quality of life and national spending habits perspective as well.
With no need for a military and an increased emphasis on athleticism and sport, the world's people benefit. The United States of America, simultaneously the world's most powerful and most obese nation, would have to reallocate the billions (perhaps trillions) of dollars spent annually on the military to prepare for the battlefields of the 21st century. If Americans needed to dominate every athletic arena to stay on top to preserve their prestige, a massive transformation would occur in the populace. Physical activity would be mandated, athletics would be heavily funded and promoted. Life expectancy and overall happiness would skyrocket.
Besides, wouldn't the Falklands War have been so much more enthralling were it fought for two days in Buenos Aires and London? It could be a pay-per-view event. I can see it now: The War at Wembley.
This has to happen.