Friendship trumps rivalry.
If you’re a sports fan nowadays, you know how people thrive on rivalry. People love to hate their “enemy”. Go to any high school matchup and you’ll see (and hear!) enthusiastic cheers (and sometimes taunts) from local fans and parents sitting on the sidelines and in the stands. Let’s just say that sometimes the heat of the moment doesn’t bring out the best in people, but I want to present to you another side of the game. One that won’t make the papers. A side that doesn’t get enough press.
I have sat at local softball games for a few years and have seen and heard a lot. I’ve seen the same proud fans, dressed in head-to-toe fan wear, going from game to game, following their team week after week. Athletes aren’t the only ones who sacrifice time and energy. Parents and family also make many sacrifices so that their children can play the game that they love. I’m one of those moms.
I’ve watched teams play their hearts out, and yes sometimes things get heated. Sports events tend to bring out a lot of emotion and we can easily forget these are not professional athletes we are watching. They’re kids.
I’m writing this article because of what I saw AFTER a game. Something many of you may not see. I want to take a minute to focus on the positive impact of being involved in athletics.
This picture is my daughter and her good friend. It was taken immediately following a game that our team lost 2-1. Her friend cranked out a home run off of a pitch my daughter threw her. Our teams were “rivals” and it was a very hard-fought, stressful game. Tons of media were there to capture the moment in time. I’m so happy I captured this one. Notice they are smiling. They are friends. In fact, even though their teams are rivals and they both play hard and are highly competitive, they are STILL smiling at each other, still like each other. They do not see each other as the enemy.
These girls play travel ball together all summer long. I spend a lot of time with this girl’s family (as well as a few parents of other teammates on the same team) soaking in the sun and cheering the girls on, supporting our team together. Our softball tournaments are pretty much our family vacations, so we try to have as much fun together as we can. And we do. After our team’s loss last night we parents (from both teams) also hung out after the game. And everything was just fine. We still like each other. Imagine that.
Sometimes I think adults tend to fuel the fire of competition, but we forget to remember there is life outside this bubble we call softball. There are relationships that will last long after the 4 years of high school is over. It’s OK to actually like the girls we are playing against. It doesn’t make the girls play less hard. In fact, they tend to play harder because they enjoy joking about it afterwards. Like accidentally presenting your friend with that perfect pitch.
So the purpose for me writing this is to open your eyes to see things a bit differently when you attend a game. It is, in fact, just a game. The relationships we build because of this oh-so-loved game is what is so great about it. Choose to deliberately see these kids (and parents) are not the enemy. They are people just like us. Who love the game, and who love their kids.
Because love matters most,
The Green Snail – thegreensnail.com