Fallen Heroes: Sport as Religion

VANESSA SMEETS

Oscar Pistorius

SA ON HIS BACK: Oscar Pistorius was for the last decade South Africa’s most inspirational sportsman. Today, he awaits his fate in prison. Mark, a disabled fan, gives his thoughts… PIC: Internet

Mark (22) was born with a rare muscular condition that causes his muscles to deteriorate over time. Today, he has no real control over his arms and legs. However, he is still able to use his mouth to write and speak:

“They said I’d be dead by age 20, but I’m still here. I know what it’s like to be bullied for being different. Even after everything, the person who got me this far is Oscar Pistorius. Bullies used to call him ‘lucky packet’ at Pretoria Boys’ High School, because they claimed he got his legs in a lucky packet. It was hard… On Twitter, he spoke of Spud being his favourite book. Being a boarder was never easy.”

Oscar as a child

SMILING HOPE: Oscar’s legs were amputated under the knee, at 11 months old. He was born without his fibula. PIC: Internet

Mark has Oscar’s pictures all over his bedroom walls. These are not photographs. He painted them using his mouth:

“Oscar taught me so much about living with disability. I push on. I strive to make the most out of life.”

When news hit that Oscar had been accused of murder, Mark refused to believe it:
“The media feed us so much… It’s hard to distinguish fact from fiction. If innocent, he’ll live with the guilt of killing his beloved for the rest of his life. That, itself, is prison. If it was purposeful, he would be disappointing millions of fans. The guy is a strong Christian, as proven by his Bible quotes and the Corinthians tattoo on his back.”

Oscar tattoo

RELIGIOUS: Oscar has never been afraid to speak openly about his faith. A large back tattoo quotes the book of Corinthians. PIC: Internet

The tattoo reads, from 1 Corinthians 9 v 26-27:

“26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

One thing is for certain: this whole saga has demasked the hypocrites from the faithful. Those once loyal to Oscar are breaking down, not sure what to believe any more. Jokes are being passed on as a way to deal with the shock. South Africa, much like the rest of the world, has created sport into a type of religion. Sport stars are on the cover of magazines, billboards, TV adverts and have thousands of fans on Facebook. Their autobiographies line up bookshops’ window-sills. Little children wait for them to visit their schools.

Mark explains this phenomenon quite well:

“For many South Africans, we escape in our sport. Some see it as a refuge, others as a place of worship. Much like a church, mosque or synagogue. However, our fatal flaw is not realising we are fatally flawed. We idolise these guys too much. I’m guilty of that. Just look at my room.”

Mark continues after drinking two glasses of water: “I’ve heard from close friends, Oscar used to get angry when younger guys at school looked at his legs, even if they weren’t doing it on purpose. I get stared at every day. It gets to you. All you want, is to be seen as human.”
Those words haunt me: “He wanted to be seen as human.”
Mark has tears in his eyes: “I’ve heard the craziest things lately, people calling him a cyborg with a gun attached to his hands. These are the same people who yesterday saw this sport’s star as their invincible hero.”

The same can be said for all our other ‘decrowned sporting gods:’
Hansie Cronjé was worshipped as the best cricket captain we had ever seen. He was convicted of match fixing a few years later. Joost van der Westhuizen was our blue-eyed golden boy on the rugby field. His sex and drugs video became a horrible thing to digest. Herschelle Gibbs was our incredible cricket batsman. He was soon labelled a wife-beater with a short temper. The list goes on.

Oscar Pistorius once said: “I have a strong sense that I have to educate people about disability.” The truth is, he is educating us now more than ever about our disability to think for ourselves. “He is a cold-hearted killer” one day and “He’s a sufferer of unfortunate circumstances” the next.

Mark hands me a colourful painting of Oscar at the London Olympics: “Maybe this whole saga has taught me one thing… Even the strongest people live in fear. Fear of losing a race. Fear of death-threats. Fear of being robbed. Fear of losing the one you love.”

Marks hands over the smallest sketch now. It’s a picture of Oscar holding one of his first trophies:
“No matter how much money you have, it does not buy you peace of mind. I just hope we see our own disabilities throughout this gruesome chapter. We all judge. We all speculate. We all, in that way, fall from grace. A trophy for some is a burden of pressure for others.”

Slide-show of the Oscar Pistorius case:

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/oscar-pistorius-shooting-live-murder-1708978

South Africa: War Rising

VANESSA SMEETS

As much as I try to focus on the good news of South Africa, we are currently a country at war, just a week after the History Channel did a special on us called Miracle Rising. It was a show that highlighted how South Africa miraculously defeated the odds. But the truth is, today we are at war with our fight against crime, women abuse and the media that seem to overspeculate and sensationalise. As indicated by today’s front-pages, spattered in innocent blood…

How ironic that our State of the Nation address coincided with several other incidents: Valentine’s Day, the shooting of model Reeva Steenkamp (now infamously remembered as the shot girlfriend of Oscar Pistorius) and the day that was meant to be dedicated to Anene Booysen, mutilated, raped and killed at only 17. A day of love turned into a day of hatred.

The media have been sharing private tweets between Oscar, Reeva and his family. Is this an invasion or privacy or public knowledge? Have social media destroyed privacy of self?

As for protection of privacy, did Zuma address enough the main issue of our country: our children who are at risk on a daily basis of being abused by a family member, a family friend or for use by strangers as muti (dismembering body parts for medicinal purposes)? No, he didn’t. Love for our country’s future, our children, did not feature enough this Valentine’s Day…

The child molester’s usual excuse: “I was molested myself.” Stop the curse then. Stop stealing from the one soul that can save you: the purity of a child.

Did Zuma address our horrifying rape stats with more vigour? No, it’s a touchy subject for him, as most of us will recall… A woman is estimated to be raped every few seconds or minutes in South Africa (depending on reported or unreported cases) and baby rape is a shameful reality, a social myth built up by the idea that “having sex with virgins will cure you of HIV/AIDS.”

Anene Booysen

GONE TOO SOON: Raped, mutilated and killed by her injuries. South Africa dedicated a day to her, but it was overshadowed by violence’s newest victim, Reeva Steenkamp.

RIP Anene Booysen, you would have been celebrating your Matric Dance soon. Instead, you dance amongst angels. A few people wore duct-tape for an hour yesterday in memory of you, trying to speak for the voiceless. These men that ripped your intestines out and broke your bones may have stolen your dignity, but not your vision. Your hope, but not your legacy. Your innocence, but not your pledge.

There is only one way to envision a new South Africa, by seeing and hearing with the eyes and ears of our children. That is where true courage lies. Anene, you are the face that launched a thousand voices. Your death strangely coincides with Belgium’s decision to perhaps release their most infamous paedophile, Marc Dutroux. He mutilated, raped and videotaped six girls we know of. Two were buried alive. Two were still alive when police asked questions… Melissa and Julie were placed on milk cartons, posters and still we found them too late. Next week, he may be walking free. That’s the logic of today: “Create space in jails and chaos in society.” I guess one is safer in a hole after all…

Golden couple: Steenkamp and Pistorius

LOST LOVE: South Africa’s golden couple, Reeva Steenkamp and Oscar Pistorius, ripped apart by murder and now by media speculations that it was not an accident. PIC: Internet

RIP Reeva Steenkamp, you were on your road to even bigger stardom. Tomorrow marks the day your reality show will normally go to air. Tropika’s director, Samantha Moon, is determined to show South Africa what a “bubbly, lovely, beautiful person” you were.

There is a terrible notion built into the minds of many South African men: submissive women feed your manhood. If she does not listen, beat her. If she carries on saying no, rape her. Reeva, accident or not, your death shows the paranoia even our seemingly strongest men go through.

Anene and Reeva, South Africa apologizes for not giving you enough attention. Those who did this to you got more media attention. Woman of the future, woman of the present and now women of the past, may your legacies live on, not as victims of violence, but as ambassadors of peace and change. That would be the true miracle rising for South Africa…

Valentine’s Day Ideas

VANESSA SMEETS

Ever the romantic, I decided to rack my brain for original ideas. These can be applied to both men and women.

“All you need is love, love is all you need…”
– The Beatles

  • Not a poet? Create a poem with your lover’s favourite song lyrics. The Beatles and Queen have incredible lines…
  • Love_flowerPlace petals on the bed, spelling the letters of their name. Too long a name? A letter for each petal.
  • Lingerie too expensive these days? Wrap yourself in a large bow. He must unwrap only using his tongue and teeth.
  • Prepare the room like a beach getaway. Pour champagne upon your darling… Cool water and bubbles, just like the ocean.
  • After showering together, tell him/her to meet you in the room. Come back only with whipped cream on the important bits… Shower again. Hehe…LOVE_naughty
  • Prepare breakfast in bed, but unique in that under each item he/she finds a word. They spell out whatever he/she means to you.
  • Buy a rose for his/her mom… She raised him/her after all.
  • Try making a card instead of buying a soppy one. “I took time for you…” says so much more.
  • Love_quoteTake him/her on a picnic. Prepare a type of treasure map of the park you choose. Every tree or bush indicated on the map hides a word describing what he/she means to you.
  • Go to the movies early, ask the people in charge if you can insert something before… “John, I love you…” “Thank you for everything, Jane…” He’ll be so surprised when you start watching the movie.
  • Spell their name out with adjectives:

e.g. IAN…

Incredible
Athletic
Naughty

The trick to romance is pure originality and knowing what your lover likes.
Is he/she a racer? Prepare a trip around in a McClaren, or whatever his/her favourite car may be. Test drives are free or cheaper 😉
A boxer? Get him/her new gloves with the words “Love” and “You” on each hand.
A tour guide? Surprise him/her with a tour of your body. Blindfold him/her. And explore you, tongue only.
A doctor? Play his naughty nurse side-kick… “Doctor, I’m not quite sure how to turn you on… Mind showing me?”

There’s only as far as your imagination can take you…

A crazy little thing called LOVE…

VANESSA SMEETS

“Open up your mind and let me step inside,
Rest your weary head and let your heart decide,
It’s so easy when you know the rules, It’s so easy all you have to do Is fall in love
Play the game
Everybody play the game – of love”

 – Queen, Play the Game

  

adam eve

ORIGINAL SIN: Our first celebrity couple, Adam and Eve, didn't give us much to be hopeful for in the game of love...

 

In the beginning, God created man and from man was born woman. Adam and Eve, the first celebrity couple, were of the same flesh, or were they? They certainly had different tactics: she wanted power, knowledge and freedom, while all he wanted was a loving wife. Thanks to Eve, immortality was history and later used in programs like “Highlander.”

 However, Adam stayed faithful to his wife, was later banned from the Garden of Eden and was destined to be questioned by men of the future: Can my wife be trusted?

In the beginning, God had already planned the course of true love…

The Bible explains the story of another influential pair: Abraham and Sarah. Although he impregnated their much younger maid, she remained loyal and her faith bore him an incredible son whose father was prepared to sacrifice for his love of God.

The course of true love was planned with ultimate sacrifice that would eventually lead nations.

Macbeth

CRAZY LOVE: She stole his heart and then his sanity. Lady Macbeth plots to bring her husband to power. PIC: online

Shakespeare writes of an exquisite couple, one who had it all: glamour, status, passion and, most of all, ambition. He was a Scott with a thirst for blood and his wife was a pavement special (in attitude) between Cruella De Vil, Winnie Mandela and the witch from Wizard of Oz. Lady Macbeth held on to her husband’s fate a little too tightly; Macbeth was eventually decapitated.

The course of true love never did run again…

Who can forget our idols: Romeo and Juliet? He was on his way to college, living the prime of his life, partying up a storm and well she… she was a Grade 9 girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Their eyes met at a Shakespearian-inspired night club (of course she looked twice her age) and only after the deed was done, did she dare tell him her real age.

  

romeo

ETERNAL KISS: Star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet ponder passionately before their untimely death... PIC: Online

The course of true love never did end as fast…

Then there was dynamite that couldn’t have come in a smaller package. Together, they were known as Pinky and Brain, a.k.a. Josephine and Napoleon. All he wanted was a wife that never bathed; yet she convinced him to try and take over the world.

The course of true love never did smell as bad…

Here we are today: same type of mistakes, same type of couples, and same type of love: Clinton and Hillary, Clinton and Monica, Clinton and cigar! One in five people read about it, one in three songs moan about it and one in two poems cry about it.

For better or worse, through sickness and in health: the course of true love never did run smooth…

Time holds the key to our troubled minds: the end is as close as we make it out to be. To an end, true love will never come. True love will never end.

BUT, WHAT IS THIS PHENOMENON CALLED “LOVE”?

 

As defined by various individuals:

“Love is a choice – a wonderful yet painful choice. It encompasses sacrifice, joy, perseverance, ecstasy, forgiveness and wisdom. It’s the ultimate paradox,” Sandra, student.     

love is“Love is the most abused word, often confused with lust, like, passion. Love is a powerful feeling that only a few have experienced. Christ’s life is love,” Didier, physiotherapist.

 

“Love is to trust no matter what, to protect the person even if that means giving your life and to take care of them till the day they die,” Guinevere, student.

“Love is when each partner brings out the best in each other,” John C, student.

“Love is a feeling of respect, passion and wanting the best for that person – which includes an awkward butterfly feeling in your stomach,” Bianca, student.

“Love is like the wind – you can’t see it but you can feel it. It’s a strong word – easy to spell, difficult to define and impossible to live without,” Mercedes, student.

“Love: the state of mind characterised by the will to appreciate something/ someone,” Ekerette, student.

“Love is a never-ending experience filled with challenges, emotions and fulfilness,” Belen, student.

“Love = bliss. It transcends. It’s like the moment after you’ve cum, when all the chemistry of lust is spent and your mind is spiking more than the sex moments earlier, just because your feelings are made manifest. Love transcends the physical. It transcends lust, chemistry and circumstance. And, it’s a bugger,” John S, student.

love is“Love does not hurt you at any time: it is pure happiness that allows you to do whatever you desire,” Jean-Eduard, student.

“Love is being present in mind, heart, body and action and setting one’s soul alight, a flight and alive. No words can ever embody this word humankind calls love,” Vanessa, student.

“Love is giving of oneself freely, without any obligation or too much expectation,” Amélie, grandmother, married for 60 years.

“Love is being fair, love is caring. Love is special, like making breakfast in the morning, lunch during the day and dinner at night. Love is being a good woman!” Krzysztof, student.

“Love is separate from lust in such a way that it completes above sexual satisfaction, fuses emotions and brings together two people on the same level of respect and emotional connection,” Chantal, general practitioner.