Tag Archives: sports

The Hijab, the New Olympic Sport !

Hijab Vs. Bikini

Ahmed Tharwat

New Olympic sport: judging athletes in hijabs

The Egyptian women’s beach volleyball team changed the conversation about women’s dress and feminism.



AUGUST 18, 2016 — 6:40PM

Since Athens 1896, there have been many changes to the sports on the summer Olympic program. at Rio 2016 golf and rugby-7s join the program to reach 28. Aquatics, canoe/kayak, cycling, gymnastics, equestrian, volleyball and wrestling have multiple disciplines, but the new sport that was recently added and everyone was talking about is judging athletes in hijab.

The contrasting images last week of the fully clothed Egyptian women’s beach volleyball team playing the skimpily clad German team swept across media coverage and the internet during the 2016 Rio Olympics. Sports uniforms, which are big business mainly dominated by corporate sponsorship, were suddenly transformed into a cultural hot button on the beach of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Watching women with oily bodies in bikinis playing beach volleyball has become a global spectacle, attracting millions of viewers. Sexism has always been a part of women sports. But only recently, in 2012 to be exact, the FIVB (International Volleyball Federation) announced that it would no longer enforce its bikini requirement on women’s beach volleyball players.

That decision was driven not by cultural or feminist pressure, but by the global appeal of volleyball in non-Western countries and by fear of losing the market and players in places where people have different ideas about how women should dress. FIVB spokesman Richard Baker said, “We don’t think we will see much change [in attire] on the world tour.”

However, the Egyptian team not only delivered change at the Rio Olympics, but changed the conversation about women’s dress and feminism. Muslim women, body and soul, were once again in the international forefront. The West has been fixated on Muslim women’s dress for a long time. France has banned hijab wearing in public schools and government facilities, and the “burqini” — the long swimwear that some Muslim women wear — has been banned at some beaches.

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How I lost my Golf Partner to Donald Trump!!

Golfing short


Ahmed Tharwat

I took up golfing right after  realizing that  I couldn’t play soccer anymore, couldn’t run, so I took walking as a sport, besides as  a Muslim I wanted to be assimilated.

Growing up in Egypt I had never had a chance to play this illusive game or even come close to being on a golf course. Golf is still an individualistic and very much a disciplined game for someone who played and lived for a long time with the game of proximity and improvisation: the game of soccer. Golf needs a conservative mindset that uses linear thinking. Soccer is more liberal that requires a nonlinear mindset. GOLF is basically a men’s game – as men golfers say – stands for Guys Only Ladies Forbidden, Ha ha ha, don’t drop your beer.


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Muhammad Ali’s Was My hero when there were no heroes.

Especially for a young boy in a remote village in Egypt, where the boxer’s battles had parallels.

Donald Trump, reacting last year to President Obama’s assertion that Muslims are among our sports heroes, slammed back: “What sport is he talking about, and who?”

I’m not interested in engaging in a sports contest, especially with a rich white man with bad hair. But my admiration of a black, Muslim sports hero started a long time ago.

Ali with Nasser aloneAs a youngster growing up in a small village in Egypt, I had only two heroes: Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser and boxer Muhammad Ali. Nasser made his fame by championing the fight against Western imperialism and colonialism in the region, spreading Pan-Arab pride. Ali wasn’t just fighting in the ring, but, like Nasser, was fighting American imperialistic expansionism and its ugly war in Vietnam.

Continue reading Muhammad Ali’s Was My hero when there were no heroes.


How football…explains America


By Ahmed Tharwat
Last Sunday, more than 180 million Americans congregated in living rooms, bars, restaurants to eat, drink and watch the Super Bowl 50 championship game between Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers.  This is the biggest sporting event of the year, with highest TV rating (39.1 points); the game day ticket price averaging $10,466, it brought more than $500M economic value (debatable) to host city, a 30 second ad costs $4.5m, in fact, last year a FIAT 500X crossover car covering one minute ad costs $9m, that for the first time mixed cars and Viagra. American football is not just a game, it is a huge entertaining culture exhibition, where one hour is stretched to more than 3 hours of festivities. The actual playing time according to a ​Wall Street Journal study, is 11 minutes, with commercials taking up about an hour. As many as 75 minutes, or about 60% of the total air time, excluding commercials, is spent on shots of players huddling, standing at the line of scrimmage or just generally milling about between snaps.
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Three Shots Of Tee


Three shots of tee

Ahmed Carrying bagIn sports as in life as you grow older, the game gets slower and the ball gets smaller (pun intended). For me, I moved from playing football (soccer), to tennis and now to the game of golf.
As a kid growing up in Egypt I had never had the chance to play this elusive game of golf or even see a golf course in person. But as Greg Mortenson, a controversial American social activist, in his book “Three Cups of Tee,” talked about an Afghani elder’s conversation with him while building schools for Afghani girls without consulting with the locals, “in Afghanistan” he advised, “First cup of tea you are a stranger, on the second you are a friend and with the third cup of tea you are a family member.” In golf, on the first tee shot we are just strangers. By the time we are on the fifth tee shot we are golfing friends. On the ninth tee shot, we are drinking buddies (non-alcohol for me, please).

GreenFor someone who played football (soccer), a game of proximity and improvisation, the individualistic and much disciplined game golf requires quite an adjustment.

Golf thrives only in a culture of abundance where each player brings his/her own balls, bag, shoes, umbrella, raincoat, hats, cart, clubs and caddy. Soccer thrives in a scarce culture. All you need to do is to show up at the park with the clothes you have on. No equipment needed, only one ball shared by all players, and a “one for all and all for one” team spirit. But in America, there doesn’t seem to be any respect for a sport that doesn’t use hands or equipment.

LakeIn soccer you can literally use your head, but shouldn’t think so much in handling the ball. It’s better to rely on your instincts. In golf you can only use your head to hit this small ball straight on the fairway, every time. Trying to make that little ball go where you want, is one of the most deceptively simple tasks you will ever encounter.

Your relationship with other golfers isn’t quite clear. They aren’t your opponents but aren’t your teammates either. It all depends on what is going to happen on the golf course. Fellow golfers want to score higher than you, but while you play they also give advice on how to best improve your game.

As an Arab-American, getting on the golf course for the first time is a refreshing experience and a wonderful treat. On a typical day, people assume I’m the authority on all things Arab. They ask me tough questions about the Middle East, what ISIS is up to or why general Sisi is getting into the construction business and building a new capital for Egypt. On the golf course, I’m not seen as a hyphenated American. Golfers transcend race, color and ethnicity; the only thing we see is the color of the green. We are just men in a man’s world, no cultural sensitivity or diversity training required. I’m just another golfer – a bad golfer maybe, but never a bad Arab.

Golf courseOne of the golf courses in town is surrounded by big houses. My crooked tee shot went straight to the high voltage tower and made a very loud noise! I told my American friend (a former public prosecutors), “I hope you don’t think that shot was a terrorist attack.” He gave me another ball to hit.

Our human energy is consumed with hitting this small ball. The exhilaration of smashing this ball onto the fairway overwhelms our bias, racism and ethnocentric behavior.

For a long time I had subscribed to the notion that golf is played by old men wearing ugly pants. Now, golf is played by young men with “nice pants.”

the tunnelGolfing is a mental relaxation exercise, where your cognitive process is taken over by your instincts to stay the course. This is a quite a treat for an Arab-American who had been consumed by the never-ending political wrangling of biblical proportion, years of jihad over the fate of the holy land. In golf the only holy land that I care about is the golf course. This is the only jihad I have and I’m the only one who can do anything about it. Golf anyone?



Ahmed Tharwat
Arab American TV show, Belahdan
“A show with accent for those without one”
Ahmed blogs at “Notes From America”