Time for sports

It is otherwise named, “The International Magazine of Events.” Founded in 1923, each week Time magazine publishes stories ranging from the Iraq War to Barack Obama to the annual “Person of the Year.” This week, with it’s June 20 to July 7 issue, sports fans are lucky.

“Games People Play” is the cover title with the accompanying queries: Who invented chess? Why is polo big in Pakistan? From the ancient city of Ur to modern Africa, from Cornwall to Korea, how sports and games have changed our world.

This issue is a fabulous read! Would you believe, out of the magazine’s 104 pages, a full 60 are devoted to essays, statistics and photos on sports?

There’s “The Games That Bring Us Together,” penned by Michael Elliott. In this short (two-page) essay, he writes, “Play allows us to explore and share our common roots and sensibilities, wherever we live, whatever the cultures from which we draw substance.”

Deep, heavy words? Yes. Kind of. But, put simply, it means that sport transcends all barriers. When you play, it doesn’t matter if you’re brown, black, white, long-legged and skinny or big and “awesome” as Po in Kung Fu Panda (a must-watch movie!).

“Field of Dreams.” That’s another story. It writes of young boys living in Cameroon, Africa who are so poor that their only means of progress is to “flee.” Yes, to leave their nation wearing football shoes with the hope of playing soccer in Europe like Samuel Eto’o.

Hoop City. “In China’s urban landscape, playing basketball on asphalt courts is a means to pump up street cred, to feel free, and maybe, just maybe, to embark on a journey that leads to NBA stardom,” reads the intro. After reading this story, I’m convinced that the NBA—towered tall by Yao Ming and Yu Jianlian—is the most followed game in China. “The public courts in Shanghai and Beijing are more crowded than ever now,” wrote Bill Powell. “Show up at a court on a fine Saturday morning in the spring and you can wait for an hour or more to get in a game.”

More articles? There’s plenty. “Prison Break” is, I know, the title of the hit TV series but it’s also the heading of a story which reads, “In Thailand, boxing gives convict a fighting chance to punch their way out of jail—and create a new life free from crime.” Reminds you of Mike Tyson? But this is true—and it’s happening. Says Thailand’s Wanchai Roujanavong: “The one thing people in detention have a lot of is time. It’s a good environment to dedicate yourself to boxing.”

Well, we know that our men-behind-bars, here in Cebu, don’t box… they dance. But either way—punching jabs or swaying hips—this is an excellent idea to keep our prisoners fit and productive—and YouTube popular.

Chess? Writing a one-page essay is Viswanathan Anand, 39, the current world champion. He wrote “The Indian Defense” with this text that says it all: “Virtually every nation or people has claimed to have invented chess. But the game’s origin is clear: it lies in my own homeland India.” Terrific story. One that chess enthusiasts—including, I’m sure, “Chessmoso” himself, Boy Pestaño—would love to read.

There’s plenty, plenty more. If you love running, as Frederic Chiongbian, Dr. Renald Ramiro, Raffy Osumo, Bob Lozada and thousands of others around this island do, you’ll enjoy “Fast Living.” Here, in just three brief pages, you’ll understand… “Why a small town of farmers and herders in the Ethiopian highlands has consistently yielded many of the world’s best distance runners. (It’s not the water.)”

And, of course, the issue would be incomplete without talk of 08.08.08. “Crazy For Gold: Determined to knock the U.S. off the top of the Olympics podium, China’s state-run sports schools are pushing their young students to the limit. Inside the medal machine” is a superb inside look of why China will rule the Olympics in….. China.

Want more? Make time for Time.

John Pages

By John Pages

I've been a sports columnist since 1994. First, in The Freeman newspaper under "Tennis Is My Game." Then, starting in 2003, with Sun.Star Cebu under the name "Match Point." Happy reading!

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