Sadly, folks, this picture was not Photoshopped, nor is this article a satire piece.
For the first time in history (at least to my knowledge), the famed Olympic Torch took the bus in Paris, France. After several attempts by pro-Tibetan groups to steal the torch, officials ushered the procession onto a bus and continued the route as planned.
France is not the only place where protests have been staged. Earlier today, three protesters scaled the Golden Gate Bridge to display large banners that read "One World/One Dream/FreeTibet.org" and "Free Tibet '08." Protests have also sprung up in London as well as in parts of China itself.
What has led to these "attacks" on a famed symbol of the international games?
The Chinese government has continued to escalate tensions between itself and Tibet through beatings, imprisonment, and an international misinformation campaign. Unfortunately for the Chinese government, we have greater access to a reliable free press that cannot be silenced as easily as China's increasingly insulated populace.
There have been calls for countries and important international figures (including President George W. Bush) to boycott the opening ceremonies and even the games themselves.
Where do we draw the line between politics and sport? Do we ignore the political injustices occurring in China and watch the games because we can't wait to see the United States dominate in swimming or the possibility that LeBron James proves to the world that he truly is the "King"?
If we personally boycott watching the Olympics, when do we put our foot down next? Shall we refuse to allow Cuban baseball teams onto U.S. soil to play games due to our embargo? Will we not watch if the United States finds itself matched up against Iran in World Cup 2010?
I don't claim to have the answer and I believe that the decision is ours to make, however, I must admit that it disturbs me to know that while I am free to write such an article sitting safely in my apartment in upstate New York, if I were a citizen of China writing this within its borders you might never hear from me again.
We are a unique community, both sports fans and writers. I believe this issue is of great importance for us to discuss, if only because of one beautiful truth:
I know people might have strong opinions on this topic and the recent protests across the world over China's human rights violations, policies on Tibet, and hard-line stance on those who speak out against the government's inhumane policies. Although I hope this piece will generate much discourse, please refrain from making racist or otherwise insensitive/ignorant comments. We're all better than that.
I believe it's important that we all, as sports fans, realize that sometimes greater issues than wins and losses come into our realm and it can be positive to discuss these topics rather than simply dismiss or condemn them.
That being said, let the posting begin...