ROAD FABLES / The Soft Power of Sports

Once upon a time . . .

We were seated outside, on a balmy June evening, at a restaurant on a cobblestone lane in Ljubljana. Our waiter approached the table and we ordered the goulash we’d been salivating over ever since we’d opened the menu. The waiter disappeared back into the restaurant to put in our order.

When he returned with a basket of bread and olive oil, he asked if we were American. (The accent never fails to unmask us.) We answered in the affirmative, hesitantly, as we braced ourselves for an intense political discussion. Nine times out of ten this is the conversation that follows the revelation that one is American while traveling abroad. 

The waiter’s face lit up immediately. “Oh,” he said excitedly, “I’m a huge LeBron fan. The Cavs are definitely going to win tonight.” Despite the time difference – which would put the start of the game at 2 a.m. Ljubljana time – he was staying up to watch, determined not to miss a second of the NBA finals. We spent the rest of meal talking basketball.

Moral of the story

Never underestimate the global reach of sports – and its power to help form connections. 

Photo: Ljubljana, Slovenia / June 2016

See also:

Slovenia Dossier

And . . .

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