A Campos View

Jason Campos

Jason Campos

Jason Campos

As a sports fan, I love this time of year.

What’s not to love? The World Series is being played, the NFL and college football are in full swing, the NHL is underway to be shortly followed by the NBA. It’s a very entertaining time to be an American sports fan.

In these stressful times of domestic anthrax cases and the international tension with the United States war against terrorism, sports of all kinds are seen as a welcome diversion for the collective American psyche.

We, who enjoy sporting events, should consider ourselves extremely lucky that we can continue to have such diversions. As a token of thoughtfulness, the US military even broadcasts football and baseball games half way around the world to give our service men and women a positive reminder of the life that they have left behind.

But what would our service men and women view if they watched sports in Afghanistan? Although there are no professional leagues like those here in the United States, there are many Afghani athletes that participate in popular universal sports, such as soccer, basketball, and bicycle racing. And there are other sports that are particular to the country and its inhabitants.

Two of these sports are kite fighting and buzkashi. In kite fighting, the players (mostly children and teenagers) cover the strings of the kite with combination of powdered glass and flour. They then maneuver their kites in order to cut the strings of their opponents. They do this by rubbing the kite strings together. But since the Taliban has outlawed kite flying, this game can no longer be played out in the open.

Buzkashi is the national sport of Afghanistan. Literally translated, it means “goat grabbing.” It is commonly found being played by the people in Northern Afghanistan.

The equipment of this sport is a headless carcass of a goat and horses. There are two teams. The object of the game is to get possession of the carcass and bring it to a designated scoring area.

The players, called chapandaz, go through a rigorous amount of training. Even the horses involved in Buzkashi train for a number of years before being allowed on the playing field. It can be a very dangerous game. A player who has control of the carcass must keep his opponents from seizing the carcass from his hands and also maintain his balance on a moving horse. There are jagged rocks and ditches that the players must avoid.

Americans have baseball and football. Afghanis have kite flying and buzkashi. In both countries, these are not merely sports, but a way of life.