Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Stamps and Sports-A Historical Perspective


Games have always played an important role in the society, and stamps have been one way of popularising games. Olympics have been depicted in stamps down the ages, and each country has done its best to take out stamps dedicated to sports. Football, especially the Fifa World Cup matches has also found its place in stamps. It goes without saying that in a world that is divided by ideology, geographical and linguistic barriers, sports and stamps make it possible to create a valuable bridge that binds the world into one unit. The whole world becomes one during international sports events, whether it is the Olympics, or even world football matches under the banner of FIFA! The FIFA world cup Matches that took place in 1982 were specially important for me because as an avid follower of football I remember Paulo Rossi’s success on the field. That was a year when my friends and I eagerly exchanged stamps which depicted the FIFA world cup matches of 1982. In the final match between Italy and Germany, Paolo Rossi scored a decisive goal. Italy went on to win the world cup. I also remember the Cameroon team which played very clean games according to the rule book (although they did not win many matches).

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The offshoot of the 1982 FIFA World Cup Football event was that the game was highly popularised throughout the world and various matches took place in different countries, some of them were friendly matches and some involved matches between different countries.
South Africa, which in the 1980s was the grip of  apartheid still had time for  sports, especially in the form of football as is depicted in the picture of the stamp pasted below:
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The stamp shown above is dated 1983 and it shows two players belonging to different colours of the skin playing together. Sports apparently transcends petty considerations of race, language and religion, and this stamp shows the inclusiveness propagated by sports even in a country that believed in Apartheid!
The nineteen eighty two football cup match was an important international event. Ethiopia has never won a world cup event, still, it is a nation that is crazy about football!
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The world aquatic championships in Belgrade, Yugoslavia will be remembered as an event in which, Richard James De Mont, an American swimmer became the first man to swim the 400 meter freestyle in under four minutes (3:58.18). The Olympic Committee later however stripped De Mont of his gold medal after he tested positive for a banned substance contained in his asthma medication. The pictures of the stamps pasted below commemorate the 1973 Belgrade Aquatic Games.
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The 1980 Moscow Olympic games have the dubious distinction of having been boycotted by players from the United States of America. This was an unfortunate development in International sports! The Soviet Union Union and its fellow countries boycotted the 1984 summer Olympics.
The 1980 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXII Olympiad, was an international multi-sport event celebrated in Moscow in the Soviet Union. In addition, the yachting events were held in Tallinn, and some of the preliminary matches and the quarter-finals of the football tournament were held in Leningrad, Kiev, and Minsk. The 1980 Games were the first to be staged in Eastern Europe.
Led by the United States, 65 countries boycotted the games because of the Soviet war in Afghanistan, though some athletes from some of the boycotting countries participated in the games, under the Olympic Flag.[2] This prompted the Soviet-led boycott of the 1984 Summer Olympics. Some of the later events of the games were also nearly marred by the death and unauthorized mass funeral of the immensely popular and beloved singer-songwriter Vladimir Vysotsky.[3] (Wikipedia)
 
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Stamps have always depicted the political atmosphere existing in sporting events. Unfortunately, politics does cast its shadow on sporting events throughout the world! Sports is something which brings nations and people together and politics should not be allowed to act as a spoil-sport. 

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