Sports: The Great Unifier

Carolina Panthers’ Steve Smith wears 9-11 remembrance gloves to honor the victims of the 2011 terrorist attacks. (Google Images)

By Donna J. White

With election season in full swing, there is no lack of divergent issues and ideologies. However, one thing continues to unify people across political affiliations, gender, race and ideologies – sports. Even if you don’t take part in sports themselves and just follow your favourite teams, or even if you just use situs bola online to place bets on sporting events for fun, it still gives you something in common with so many other people. Many people are able to come together under the blanket of sports events for fun, for old loyalty’s sake, for the enjoyment of the sport itself, and also for profit. All of these are things that can help people band together, talking about who they think will win with fervor, some to keep eyes on their Pointsbet promo code, others just to have something to talk about the next day at work, and more still to experience the thrill of their favorites grabbing the victory.
The idea for this article was the result of an encounter between five people of varying ages, racial and ethnic backgrounds and history whose conversation flowed easily from politics to May-December relationships to music and finally sports. Eyes lit up, passions arose and smiles became broader as the group talked about favorite teams and filled in missing information and stats about athletes. Rarely does a topic evoke such enthusiasm as when people discuss sports.

Sports – a simple six letter word – that means so much to so many. It stirs the passion of fans. One only needs to reference the recent Packers-Seahawks Monday night football game where a controversial call by replacement refs ended in an uproar. Some say it was this call that led to the end of the NFL officials strike, because of the disgust of the fans. Fans came together to help create much needed change. Unity in sports is evident in any bar, man or woman-cave or Facebook newsfeed. Each person can be rooting for opposing teams, but there is shared community around the particular sports endeavor. We saw it during the 2012 Olympics. It is on display every Sunday during American football season. It happens in the stands of Stamford Bridge in London. Sports as unifier – a needed concept.

The examples of sports as unifier are numerous. It is evident when players drop to one knee in prayer for a player on an opposing team that is injured. The first Major League Baseball and National Football League games after September 11 brought together a country brought to its knees by unbelievable acts of terrorism. More recently, Malaysian Pandelela Rinong Pamg is being credited with unifying her country after winning a bronze medal in diving in the 2012 London Olympics. She was the first Malaysian woman to win an Olympic medal and also the first Malaysian to win in a sport other than badminton. While these heartwarming tales represent the majority of sports, it is important to remember that the love of sports can also push people to chaos.

This is evident in the countless stories of rampaging fans after a loss or win, violence and death and destruction. Earlier this year, 74 people died in Egypt after the popular football (soccer) club, Al-Ahly, lost a match. Players and fans alike were attacked. Many were left to mourn the dead, leading to the cancellation of matches. Who could forget the senseless attack on Bryan Stow, 42, at Dodger Stadium in 2011? Two L.A. Dodger fans, Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood, are still awaiting trial after critically injuring and causing permanent brain damage to Mr. Stow, a San Francisco Giants fan.

Clearly sports are not a panacea as they cannot cure all of society’s ill. Nonetheless, the spirit of competition and the game brings people together. Sports loyalty can be fun and feeds a multi-billion industry, but most of all, it feeds the spirit of fans, cutting across all self-created lines. It is respect for the spirit of competition and knowing that at the end of the day, we’re all in this together that the best of sports continues to prevail. Now, wouldn’t it be great if that same spirit could be carried over to politics?

Donna J. White is a contributing writer to The Burton Wire.

Like The Burton Wire on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter@TheBurtonWire.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.