According to a slew of news media reports from last week, Shalit has recently agreed to contribute a weekly column to Israel’s Yedioth Aharonoth. Evidently a big soccer fan and basketball fan during his youth, Shalit explained that sports even served him well while he was held in captivity by Hamas from 2006-2011.
“I drew a lot of strength from sports activity, despite the conditions I was under there,” he wrote in his first column, according to the Times. “It granted me a break from the reality I was in.”
When he was being held by Hamas, boundaries were clearly defined: Shalit was the Israeli hostage, and his captors were Hamas militants with a political agenda. But when the former combat trooper had the opportunity to watch a sports game, and the guards joined in to check out the action, the ethnic divisions between the Israeli and the Arabs slowly melted away.
“He told how his captors allowed him to watch a Champions League match in which an Israeli player scored an acrobatic goal, and everybody agreed it was superlative soccer,” writes George Vescey in the Times. “For the moment, they were all just fans.”
And, apparently, these shared viewings between Shalit and his captors were less infrequent than one might think.
“I was very impressed with his knowledge of sports,” said Arik Henig, who is co-authoring Shalit’s columns in Yedioth, after speaking with Shalit over dinner. “He knew about things that happened while he was in jail. He knows the players better than I do.”
Shalit covered the NBA Finals, and during his time in the States, he visited with a number of key officials and community leaders around the country. On Sunday, he was scheduled to travel to Kiev to cover the European soccer championships final.