2015 has truly been a year of Us - Vs - Them, police vs. citizens, Republicans vs. Democrats, and as always, the rivalries of college sports. But never underestimate the power of sports. Even with all the rivalries that exist between institutions, when a school comes together the way the football team in Missouri did this week to take a stand against social apathy- real change can happen!
When we think of the mentality of sports or team rivalries, we almost often think about the modern day games such as football or baseball that have become the center of such rivalries. Truth be told, the idea of us-vs-them is one that dates back thousands of years and whose scope is far wider that which can be seen in a sports arena. From the Crusades to slavery to the Holocaust this mentality has been the foundation on which worlds have changed, beliefs have been forged, and alliances formed.
The idea of separating one group from another is one of great power that can bond a group of people together who would otherwise have very little in common. Hitler used economic hardship as a basis to band a whole nation together against a subgroup of that very same nation. He created a reason for thousands of people to identify each other into one group and vilify the other, and in so doing, created one of the most horrifying yet powerful periods in our history. This is a perfect example of the possible negative effects of that us-vs-them mentality.
This being said, that same bonding principal that was abused and perverted by the Holocaust can just as easily work to unite a group into a far more positive outcome (even if the unifying factor is pitting one group against another). Take, for example, the example of Yankee fans vs Redsox fans. Picture Yankee stadium on a night where New York is playing Boston. Thousands of New Yorkers of all different races, genders, ethnicities, etc. People who outside of this arena would have nothing to do with each other and even worse, very possibly hold ill will towards each other. On that night, in that stadium they bond together against “the enemy”.
Even beyond that night, the alliance formed by being a Yankee fan or a fan of any given team has acted as a starting point on which countless friendships and relationships were built. For these people, the sport has taken on a place in their emotional make-up. They feel a deep connection to the team, and therefore a deep camaraderie with their fellow fans. Similarly, from my own perspective as a player, a deep connection exists between our fans and us. The joy that we feel after winning for our school or town or city is rivaled only by the sadness and upset we feel when we have let them down with a loss. In this way, the sport has taken in yet another level of people into its alliance.
All of us, at our core want to feel that we are a part of something. Whether good or bad we form alliances and allegiances in order to feel that sense of belonging and ownership. As I sit here writing this blog wearing my George Washington Universty shirt, I can most definitely relate to that feeling, and stand proud behind our undefeated record in football….imaginary as our team may be…GO COLONIALS!!!!