I saw two things in today’s newspaper that gave me pause for thought. On the front page, Tony Veitch (a sports presenter here in New Zealand) was convicted of breaking his girlfriend’s back by kicking her as she lay on the ground during a fight. He was sentenced to nine months’ supervision, 300 hours of community work and fined $10,000.
His sports chums pitched in with testimonials to his character. Graham Henry, All Black coach, said he was fair and objective and he never ‘bagged’ individuals after the All Blacks didn’t win the Rugby World Cup in 2007. Well that’s okay then. So long as he’s nice about the rugby, it doesn’t matter that he was (and therefore probably still is) capable of ‘lashing out’ (his words) at a woman who ‘drove him to it’ (his words again).
How exactly, Tony, did she do that? Did she stand in front of the television while you were trying to watch the game? I should think that’s probably excusable grounds for assault in your mind.
Meanwhile, on the back page there was a report that Arsenal will meet Man Utd. in the semi-final of the Champions League. Of course, I am devastated by this news because Liverpool were knocked out by Chelsea – my nails suffered a vicious chewing during those 93 minutes (that would have been at least 95 if we were playing Fergie-time, but that’s beside the point).
The article beneath it was about the 20th anniversary memorial service for those who died at Hillsborough.
And there it is – what really makes us human; empathy and compassion for others. Bill Shankly knew the importance of football; he knew it can make us shout and cry and sing. But he knew we did it together.It is this feeling which is more important than life and death, a feeling that seems to be lacking from some people in this macho-driven testosterone-fuelled culture.