Saturday, February 24, 2007

A Historic Event

I'm not a big fan of hyperbole in sports. I think that 9/11 humbled us a bit in terms of calling sports figures heroes, but to an extent such language has crept back into sports reporting, and to life in general. It seems like every game is the most important game ever, and some games are deemed historic.

We've spent the last couple of hours watching England play Ireland in the Six Nations rugby tournament. (Nevermind that we have no clue what's actually going on -- that's another post.) The game, we had heard, was a historic event.

On November 21, 1920, during the Irish War for Independence, the Irish Republican Army assasinated 14 British agents. In retaliation, British soldiers later that day went to Croke Park in Dublin and opened fire on players and spectators at a Gaelic football match. Thirty people died. The day is now remembered as Bloody Sunday in Ireland.

Croke Park is used only for Gaelic sports (another mystery: what exactly are hurling and camogie?), but the major football/rugby stadium in Dublin is being refurbished, so they've relaxed that restriction and allowed soccer and rugby to be played at Croke Park.

So, today's game is the first time that an English sports team has come onto Croke Park's field in almost a century, and the first time that God Save the Queen has been played in this historic place in as much time. The president of Ireland shook all the players' hands, and the stadium was absolutely packed. Tears streamed down these players' faces as they locked arms and shoulders and listed to each of the national anthems.

A historic event, indeed.

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