They ran through various maneuvers, some cute tumbling and some foot races. Then a silence fell, as a half dozen or so boys marched in a single line to stop directly opposite the ranking spectators. They boys were aged about 11 to 13, and each held in his right hand a chicken or a rabbit.
After an introduction in Arabic, a command was given, and the kids crouched down low, whipping the animals through the air and smashing them into the ground.
They did this again and again, until the oldest of them ripped his teeth into the neck of his chicken, which was still flapping. The younger ones mimicked him, biting so deep most of them had blood running down their chins. This garnered huge applause; the boys' parents could be seen beaming.
It only lasted three minutes. A new command was given, the boys stopped, and marched off.
I wonder today, as these kids would be about 30, whether they're now among the Libyan men who have gone into the streets to oppose Gadhafi.
Or might they, too, have been so crippled through a lifetime of such bizarre forms of control that they'd today side with The Leader whose values were put on display on that soccer field.
I'd like to think that it's the former -- that these bad guys never really get to that last innermost part in the human soul, and that maybe those very kids are on the streets right now, taking the risk of getting even, and getting free.