Rodman worms his way into global sport-politics, while Olympics sees leadership change
USA! USA! USA!
Who doesn’t love a good ol’ chant for the red, white and blue?
The rest of the world, that’s who.
Face it. The United States is pretty darn superior in international team sport competition. USA soccer just thumped Mexico at Crew Stadium in Columbus to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil next year. USA basketball always dominates. No one can touch American style football.
Now, North Korea has to deal with a bit of American pro-style sports when Dennis Rodman comes to town to foster basketball diplomacy in a communist country that is anything but diplomatic. The eccentric ex-NBA star is a welcomed celebrity who has agreed to train an Olympic basketball team for the nuked-up country’s current dictator, Kim Jong-un.
What will his majesty do when his “Olympic hopefuls” fail to impress on the court? Hang ’em high in the public square for the masses to see, or just order a quick machine-gun style execution like he did for an ex-lover who started appearing sex tapes and porn films?
It is all true for one of the last countries on Earth that condones legal public executions and practices horrendous human rights violations in the form of slave labor, forced abortions, starvation and mass political imprisonment. How cool would it be if the USA-Russia chemical weapon agreement just signed with Syria could extend to address North Korea’s arsenal of nuclear missiles? Instead, here comes a social outcast NBA player who once wore a wedding dress to a book signing, ready to promote the political propaganda of a communist dictator. Regardless of the opinion of President Obama or the general public on foreign relations with a country such as North Korea, Rodman is totally ready and able to help build a national basketball team that hopes to compete with the world’s best.
It’s not certain if the NBA is grinning from ear to ear or if the league is shaking its head in disbelief. Perhaps the door is open for Rodman to become the NBA’s new global guru.
Fat chance there, too.
The NBA’s super-star international president (Heidi Ueberroth) may be retiring after this year, but Dennis Rodman certainly won’t be called up as a replacement by Commissioner David Stern. Incidentally, Stern has also announced his retirement effective February 2014. Ueberroth has worked two decades to establish over a dozen NBA world offices in locations such as Taiwan, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Japan, France, Germany, Mexico, Spain, Ontario and Australia. There are currently no plans to extend the global outreach to North Korea.
Stern has had an incredible impact in the NBA having overseen substantial global expansion, four lock-outs, six franchise relocations, a referee betting scandal, rampant recreational drug use, and – thanks in part to Dennis Rodman – a new player dress code. When Stern took over the NBA in 1984, Forbes estimated the collective league value as $400 million. That figure just happens to be the current estimated value of one single NBA franchise team. What a difference a few decades make.
Speaking of retirement, International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge stepped down last week in Argentina after leading the organization for the past 12 years. Elected as the IOC’s new leader is Thomas Bach, a German lawyer and former fencing gold medalist. Bach now has to deal with the public outcry over Russia’s anti-gay propaganda legislation in the forthcoming Sochi 2014 Winter Games. He’ll also have to address the continued public demonstrations rampant in the streets of Rio De Janeiro over misappropriated government spending to stage the World Cup and 2016 Summer Games.
At least wrestling will remain in the Olympics along with a modern makeover that would make Vince McMahon proud. Ramp up the music and Vegas-style special effects. Goodbye ugly singlets; hello women in sport bras. Olympic beach volleyball, eat your heart out.
Unfortunately, last week’s IOC vote to retain wrestling left softball out in the cold – again. If the sport of softball would have disassociated itself from trying to partner with baseball to win over the heavy European delegation, it would have been better off. Instead, softball teamed with a sport that is laden with drug problems and refuses to send the best of the best to compete. Not one MLB representative attended any IOC meeting.
Meanwhile, Dennis “The Worm” Rodman is still playing it cool preparing to train a short team of basketball hopefuls in North Korea. Perhaps he will also take time to train an all-female Olympic free-style wrestling team. Heck, he may get them to go topless like the basketball team he reportedly formed for a strip club in New York last year. Oh, the NBA has to be so proud.
Stay tuned for more interesting and entertaining views on sports from around the globe to our local corner of the world here in northwest Ohio.
Bonnie Tiell is the Associate professor of Sports Management at?Tiffin University.