While living in France for 5 years I worked in an international office with colleagues from throughout Europe. Every once in a while I would conduct straw polls of these colleagues over lunch on happenings in America to get a sense as to whether a particular phenomenon was uniquely American. Back in 2007, one such question posed to 7 colleagues was, “Do any of you guys know who Barack Obama is?” The answer was a unanimous, “No.” My prophetic response was, “Get ready, you will.”
To be fair, at that time, the U.S. election was several months from the first primary and France was focused on their own Presidential election, so it wasn’t that surprising that the African American with a funny sounding name was unknown by my educated and fairly well informed colleagues. Of course, everyone knows who he is now, but I also know, even though I haven’t spoken to many of them since I left, that most are surely amazed that a black man who had only been a state senator 5 years earlier is now the leader of the most powerful country in the world. Reluctantly, and perhaps a little bit sheepishly, they would also acknowledge that a similar event could never happen in their own country. Of course, many Americans would have said the same thing 20 years ago. Heck, many were still saying that the day before the election when he had a commanding lead in the polls.
So, what is the point with this diatribe on American politics? The point is to inform some folks in the International Handball community that [b]elections are never a foregone conclusion [/b]and that the power of ideas can go a long way. O.K., I may be just one crazy American who writes about Handball, but I get emails from a lot people all over the World, some in very well informed places, so I think I have a pretty good pulse of this nebulous International Handball community. And what totally perplexes and bewilders me is the near universal dissatisfaction with the current IHF Presidential coupled with the perception that his re-election is a foregone conclusion. Those two conclusions just don’t add up.
I’m not foolish enough to think that the IHF is a cornerstone of democracy in which every voter will independently weigh the merits of each candidate and then choose the best one. No, I fully realize that there will be some backroom dealing with promises being made and some voters can and will be swayed to vote in a way that perhaps benefits themselves and not necessarily their country or International Handball in general.
But, I cannot and will not believe that all 157 potential voters will blindly vote for a particular candidate or can be bought off by a few handballs and a nice hotel room. Instead, I think most of the voters are swayable, [b]particularly if they are fully informed[/b].
One critical aspect of this election should also not be lost to the readers of this website who live in a country where Handball is relatively unknown is that the vote will be [b]one country, one vote[/b]. This means that Cameroon’s vote, the Cook Island’s vote, Costa Rica’s vote and Hong Kong’s vote counts the same as Germany’s and France’s. It’s not practical for a random German fan among millions to call his Federation President on the phone to talk about the upcoming election, [b]but it’s quite feasible to do so in a country where a few thousand or even a few hundred care about the sport[/b]. And if calling is not possible a simple email or hand written letter could be sent.
[b]And can personal contact make a difference? You better believe it can.[/b] It would not surprise me one bit if there are Federation Presidents out there in far flung locations who are not fully aware of the events that have transpired in international handball over the past few years. Or if they are aware, they’ve only gotten one side of the story. An email from a member of their Federation highlighting their election concerns may not immediately cause a Federation President to change their vote, but it should encourage him to start asking questions.
Some will say that we, the Handball fans of the world, are naïve and that we can’t influence the way nations vote next June in Cairo. To those people, I say:
[size=14][b]YES, WE CAN![/b][/size]
Contact your Federation President and let him/her know that you care strongly about his upcoming vote.
[b]National Federation Contact Information[/b]
Countries A-D: http://www.ihf.info/front_content.php?idcat=119
Countries E-H: http://www.ihf.info/front_content.php?idcat=120
Countries I-L: http://www.ihf.info/front_content.php?idcat=121
Countries M-P: http://www.ihf.info/front_content.php?idcat=122
Countries Q-T: http://www.ihf.info/front_content.php?idcat=123
Countries U-Z: http://www.ihf.info/front_content.php?idcat=124