One of the great ironies of sport is the ideals of the modern Olympics clashing with the realities of a world in which the Olympic Games exist. Guiding principles in the Olympic charter are laid out with these words: "promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity."
As the torch relay moved through London and Paris toward this summer's Games in Beijing, protesters outraged over China's crackdown in Tibet waylaid torch-bearers and tried to douse the flame with water and fire extinguishers to bring attention to what they believe is a repression of human rights. It got so bad that the French put the torch on a bus.
So the torch relay hits San Francisco tomorrow. More fireworks are expected.
Baron de Coubertin, credited with promoting the Games, may have conceived them as a refuge where the world's nations could put aside politics and strife. Instead, the Games have become a convenient stage - sometimes resulting in horrible tragedy - for so many grievances.
Probably not what the Baron had in mind.