This week the Super Bowl will dominate sports news coverage. The anticipation for the game will grow all week. Within the many themes, interest stories and outcome predictions, many will go out of their way to tell their friends, colleagues – anyone who will listen – for whom they are routing. Many more will tell you at least who they are rooting against.
I loathe this kind of sentiment. I do not accept sportsmanship is just for the players.
When we see parents lose their cool with coaches and referees we immediately denounce and distance ourselves from their behavior. We say things like, “Come on, they’re just kids…” and, “What example are you setting for your children?” Yet when I attend a live sporting event, it is common for the same behaviors to be encouraged and condoned by the crowd.
Sports represent a blend of performance and strategy. A chance for players and coaches to do their best in front of a crowd. With so many variables at stake, the games can be dramatic as it unfolds. There is so much to learn and yet when we’re spending energy routing one way or another, we tend to miss the underlying strategies and lessons at play.
In an interview I listened to this week, Charles Barkley said, “When I was younger I would, but now I don’t root against anyone. To root against someone makes you a loser or a hater.”
I agree. And I don’t want to be either of those.