There’s a Very Fine Line between Propaganda and Patriotism

When I was a child, we were crazy over soccer. The whole nation was. It was always touching for me to see the Kallang Wave and I always wished I was there to be part of the action. Fandi Ahmad, Malek Awab, Nazri Nasir, Rafi Ali, Lim Tong Hai, Steven Tan, Lee Man Hong, David Lee, V. Sundramoorthy, V. Selvaraj, Alistair Edwards, Abbas Saad, Jung Jun, Michael Vana. Saying these names alone brings a wave of nostalgia back. We were passionate over the games.

We weren’t a rich nation, but we weren’t that poor either. That was the best part. All major sports could be watched over free-to-air TV including the English premiere league, and the NBA which I watched week in, week out and even the weekend highlights of the games I had already watched live. Until cable TV stepped in. When ESPN bought the sole broadcasting right to the live games, I gave up watching sports altogether because my family couldn’t afford cable. But the good news was, I could still see the highlights of the big games with all the goals at 6.30pm when Dad would turn on the Channel 8 news.

It was so commonsensical to be able to watch at least all the goals of the soccer matches if there wasn’t time for other highlights. It just sounds so right. That is how news works, I thought. Until I arrived in Japan.

If you want to even watch just the goals of games on news, you can forget about it. The Japanese news network has a way of doing things, which I wonder if it falls under propaganda, or is it just pure patriotism. In any game, the news will only show scenes where Japanese players play a part.

For example, if there is a match between Manchester United and Liverpool, and it was tied 4-4 (just trying to not offend either side), the news in Singapore would show all eight goals. In Japan, they will only show:
1) goals that Kagawa Shinji scored or;
2) scenes where Kagawa Shinji assisted or;
3) scenes where Kagawa Shinji was fouled, leading to a goal-scoring free-kick by somebody else or;
4) scenes where Kagawa Shinji made a good pass or;
5) scenes where Kagawa Shinji made a good cross or;
6) scenes where Kagawa Shinji made a good dribble or;
7) all of the above

All other goals in which Kagawa Shinji played no role will not be shown. This, of course, is not only true of Kagawa Shinji. They do the same for Nagatomo Yuto in Inter Milan matches, Honda Keisuke in CSKA Moscow matches, Uchida Atsuto in FC Schalke matches, Hasebe Makoto in FC Nuremberg matches, and so on…

I don’t even bother watching sports news on TV anymore.

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