When I noticed a few weeks back that the United States’ FIBA World Championship team was in Group B with Iran, the first thing that I thought about was politics.
And to me, that’s still the most compelling storyline of Wednesday’s game in Istanbul.
The United States will crush the Iranians. There is no question about that. The game will be a dud. But what about the politics of such a game? Are there any? Does anyone else care?
Mike Krzyzewski doesn’t.
“This is a sporting event,” the U.S. coach told the Associated Press. “We have respect for Iran. I actually played in Iran in the 1970s when I was on the U.S. Armed Forces team. I have great feelings for their country. They’re sportsmen and so are we. We’ll have a great game.”
A Google News search of “United States Iran” yields six international affairs headlines before one that is basketball related. The first headline on that search? “Concerns for Iran’s Nuclear Program Continue to Mount”.
I’m betting that for most FIBA games, if you were to type a search query with the two countries’ names, most of the results would be basketball related. Not this one.
I’m fully aware that many people watch sports to get away from things like Iran’s nuclear program. But sometimes sports can add intrigue to the big political issues of the day. The Miracle on Ice, anyone?
So, apologies all around if you couldn’t care less about the political implications of a United States vs. Iran basketball game. I, on the other hand, find it captivating.
What do you guys think? Do you care? Am I thinking too much about a basketball game?