In Toronto, where I am currently staying, I see many cars carrying national flags on the streets. Needless to say, they are not for the G20 summit meeting. The drivers are more sensible, showing support for the respective national teams competing in the World Cup South Africa 2010. Some of the countries represented by the flags do not make it to the G20, but they do make it to the World Cup. Both G20 and World Cup are exclusive "clubs". Which club membership is based on a fairer competition, one wonders.
At night, after supper, we were having a drink in an Irish pub. There was a replay of the Denmark vs. Japan match, which Japan won by 3-1.
In sports, we are having a situation where there is can be a symmetry in and sharing of national prides. Although we do support Japan, we also have imaginations for the Danish pride, and how they might feel bad going back to Copenhagen, now out of the competition. The capacity for sympathy has been nurtured, because we are accustomed to losing in a soccer match. Ever since our school days, we have been losing matches after matches. Losing is a part of our common experience. Losing is within the "job description" as a growing up child.
It is quite unlike war, which should be banned in a civilized world anyway. If you lose a war, it is difficult to take it in a good spirit. It becomes a question of life or death. Your life would often mean the opponent's death. What a terrible and silly business.
In soccer, you have the freedom to feel sympathy for the losing opponent. For me, that is definitely the beauty of the sport.