October 21, 2004

Hey, want to be seriously depressed for an hour?

If you do, and really, in this day and age who doesn't need a good downer,
try watching the current episode of HBO's Real Sports. Or in Spanish if you
prefer, REAL Sports. For those who do not know the program, Real Sports is
Bryant Gumbel's attempt to bring his special brand of pretentiousness to
sports journalism. Even with Gumbel, it is a show very much worth watching.
Since HBO does not have any sports properties to protect, beyond the
international joke that is pro boxing, they do not have to play cheerleader
like ESPN or Fox Sports. This month's episode is unrelentingly grim. This
month's main story is both heartbreaking and infuriating.

In it, we find out that another of our important allies in the War on Terror
is utterly horrible. This segment centers on the United Arab Emirates and
their obsession with the sport of camel racing. Unlike America and Horse
racing, where jockeys are smaller adults, in the UAE they just use whatever
spare small boys are lying around. This obviously forced jocularity masks
the utter rage I felt watching this. To put in bluntly, the Camel racing
industry relies on slaves. Small boys are either kidnapped or purchased in
poor countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh, smuggled into the UAE and used
as jockeys, some as young as three years old. These boys are housed in barns
or sheds, given minimal food at best, frequently raped and beaten, then
discarded once they grow to big or too old. The piece centers on an amazing
Bangladeshi man who, at great risk, frequently rescues the camel jockeys,
usually 15-20 at a time. It is difficult, sometimes impossible to repatriate
them though, as most are too young to know where they come from, or even
their real names.

Posted by Frinklin at October 21, 2004 06:51 PM
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