There’s a scene in my favorite book ever Stargirl, in which the main character becomes a cheerleader at her high school, and her classmates get mad at her when she runs to comfort a player on the other team. The narrator is so shocked that she would cross “enemy lines” that he shuns her. But all she could see was someone who was hurt, who needed help.
Cue me being at a rugby game this weekend. Where men upon men grapple, tousle, grab, fight, jump, push, shove, sprint, and generally knock heads to get the ball. There are plenty of hurt arms, legs, and heads, but no hurt feelings in sight.
A little boy and his mother ride over on their bikes and watch the game closely from the sidelines, not too far from me. The little boy comments, “this looks like football” to which the mom agrees. (Which was a fairly astute observation made by a little boy).
After sitting in silence for a few moments, he finally asks his mom: “who are we rooting for?”
And I hold my breath, hoping the mom won’t answer at all. Because wouldn’t that be nice? Wouldnt that be great? If the little boy didn’t have to watch the game disliking one team just because his mom said so? That he could see that each side had people to root for and that’s good enough?
The mom did answer, but the irony was that it was an alumni game. The alumni against the current students. So technically, it was all for fun. There really was no rivalry. And yet, for that little boy, it was made so.
I think we need to spend more time thinking about how similar we are than how we are different. Because dividing lines can do just that: divide. And in the end, we should all be rooting for each other, no matter what team we’re on.