Nelson Mandela on Sports

Everyone with a keyboard or touch screen is writing about the death of Nelson Mandela and they had only just recovered from the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination.

With thanks to Jeré Longman in his New York Times piece Resistance, and Unity, in Sports, here are some quotes from Nelson Mandela on sports emphasizing their importance to society. [Bracketed words for context where needed.]

“Sport has the power to change the world.”

“It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.”

“The energy, passion and dedication the game created made us feel alive and triumphant despite the situation we found ourselves in,” [Soccer league at Robben Island Prison, in which Mandela was precluded from participating]

“I wanted to make sure our people know how much I appreciated the sacrifices made by our athletes during the many years of the boycott. I have no doubt I became president today sooner than I would have had they not made those sacrifices.” [Acknowledging the sacrifices made by athletes during sports boycotts, which Mandela supported.]

“Our loyalties have completely changed. We have adopted these young men as our own boys.” [To Springboks Rugby team despite its being all white before he got out of prison and mostly white thereafter.]

“If I was in a crowded room with Ali, I would stop what I was doing and go to him. He is the Greatest.” [In response to being compared with Muhammad Ali.]

A late night talk show host suggested that Mandela was the only politician whose death would actually be mourned.

Could this relate to his choice to lead his entire country rather than just his party?

Would that politicians today had any philosophy to guide them.


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