Friday, September 20, 2013

What Has Dennis Rodman Gotten Himself Into?

For many nations and footballing organizations around the world, qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Finals for the first time in 44 years would be considered a great accomplishment, and the players and staff who achieved such a memorable milestone would be greatly appreciated and rewarded. However, the North Koreans saw it a different way, and expected much more of their national team in the 2010 FIFA World Cup Finals hosted in South Africa. After a decent showing against perennial powerhouses Brazil, the North Korean government decided to allow a live broadcasting of the national team's next World Cup fixture. They faced Portugal, ironically, the same team the knocked North Korea out of the quarterfinals of the 1966 World Cup, and were handed their biggest defeat in their history, an embarrassing 7-0 scoreline. The players, as a result, were shamed in a 6-hour long public inquisition and were accused of betraying the, at the time, heir apparent Kim Jong-un, who seems to take sports quite seriously. North Korea seems to really care about its image around the world, and the North Korean government have certainly done a lot in order to maintain this image of its standing in the world, and has done its best to crush all those, North Korean or not, who attempt to destroy this image. This makes me wonder, what in the world has Dennis Rodman gotten himself into? The NBA Hall of Famer claims to have a good friendship with Kim Jong-un, and has stated that there is nothing political between them, with the love of basketball being the basis of their relationship. As a result, he has decided to coach the North Korean Olympic Basketball team for the next Olympic games. However, Rodman must consider North Korea's desire to maintain their dignity amongst leaders of the world and history in dealing with their idea of "failures." The coach of the 2010 North Korean football team, Kim Jong-hun, was entirely blamed for their embarrassing losses in South Africa, and was reportedly dispelled from the Workers' Party of Korea and forced to resign and become a day laborer. All this has got me thinking, what does Rodman hope to accomplish by taking on the reigns of an inexperienced and untested North Korean basketball team? If it is purely in the interest of spreading his love of basketball, is he not considering at all the cost of failure? Does he believe that his friendship with Kim Jong-un and his being American protects him from the wrath of the Korean leader? Or does Rodman actually have ulterior motives to taking on this daunting task? Maybe, Rodman hopes to use basketball as a means of reconnecting North Korea with the rest of the world. Or maybe, he just wants to be back in the spotlight. Either way, the spotlight is definitely on Rodman, and all we can do is wait to see if some of the fog will clear up so that we can understand this more. Until then, I guess all we can say is game on.

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