Millions of people across the Middle East continue to cry out for something much more fundamental than the outcome of a sporting event.
The cry for freedom is rocking the foundations of age-old civilizations ruled by dictators, monarchs and tribal tyrants for far too long.
We saw it in Tunisia last month when people decided they could take no more from a president who had ruled for more than two decades. President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was forced to leave the country, making way for a new interim government that is calling for free elections later this year.
It is said the peaceful Tunisian rebellion inspired the citizens of Egypt to take to the streets, demanding that longtime President Hosni Mubarak step down. When he came into office almost 30 years ago, Mubarak promised to serve only one term - a promise he obviously did not keep.
To appease angry demonstrators, who have been relentless in their public defiance since Jan. 25, the president fired his Cabinet, finally appointed a vice president and announced that the next election (for which he will not run) will be free.
All of that seems to be coming much too late for a people weary of a dictatorship where corruption is rampant and the needs of the populace ignored.
Just as Tunisians' cries were heard in the land of the pyramids, the outcry in Egypt resounds in Jordan, where protesters have seized the attention of their benevolent monarch, King Abdullah II.
Without hesitation, the king dismissed his Cabinet, appointed a new prime minister, and called for economic and political reforms, insisting on "immediate revision of laws governing politics and public freedom."
Who could have predicted, even a month ago, that the fever of democracy would spread through the Middle East as if it were contagious?
And perhaps this thing we Americans cherish is just that - contagious, especially when new technology and social media allow people around the world to see it in action and hear it proclaimed loud and clear, so much so that they can almost taste it.
The cries for freedom we hear are not new. Throughout Africa, South America and Eastern Europe, they've sounded before.
Sadly, as in Sudan, it took a bloody 20-year civil war before an election allowed the people of Southern Sudan to secede and begin to start a new government and new way of life. We can only wish them the best.
But too many times, opposition leaders - revolutionaries, if you will - help to overthrow a repressive regime and proclaim a "new day" with multiparty elections and democratic freedoms. Then once in power, they fall in love with it, becoming worse oppressors than the dictators they replaced.
We can hope that doesn't happen in North Africa and Jordan or anywhere else there may be a sudden breakout of democracy.
Regardless of what happens in these countries, Americans must realize that for decades we have helped to prop up some of these dictators and then we are shocked when there's a change in government with new leaders who don't like us very much.
The other lesson we should learn from this (one I preached before the United States made the mistake of forcefully going into Iraq): You can't impose democracy on a people. They must want it, hunger for it so much that they are willing to fight for it, suffer for it and die for it.
That is what we are seeing in Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan.
That is what we are likely to see in other countries where tyranny reigns alongside kings and princes.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Bob Ray Sanders is a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Readers may write to him at: 400 W. 7th Street, Fort Worth, Texas 76102, or via e-mail at email@example.com.