The Unification and Division of Sports

How can something adored by so many be so alienating?


Photo by Aidan Schwartz-Wayne

The best players in sports are loved by millions, but also serve as the root of many arguments between their supporters.

Aidan Schwartz-Wayne

Sports are one of the oldest things on the planet, older than most countries. In fact, competitive sports can be traced back to Ancient Greek, as far back as 776 BC in Olympia as a way to worship the Greek Gods of Olympia. There, sports served as a medium of, although temporary, peace and tranquility. 


No one was allowed to attack each other during the Olympics, as a sign of respect toward Gods, and so that athletes could travel safely. Not only people from Greece, but people from all over the world attended the Olympic games every four years, a time frame in which they still occur today. 


Now, The Olympics accompany sports that many people are completely unaware of, some examples being: Eventing, which is like a triathlon for horses, boat sailing, and the memorable sport of air pistol, how could anyone forget that? 


It’s safe to say that sports are diverse, but there would be no good qualities without bad qualities attached. As unifying as sports can be, they can be just as divisive. Something as meaningless and minuscule as another person’s opinion online can stir up people’s emotions and result in hurt feelings, demolished pride, and blocked accounts. 


But why are sports like this? Why do people care so much about who the greatest of a specific sport is? Why does it matter how a specific player would perform in another era if they didn’t already play in that era? Questions like these have inflamed the thoughts and keyboards of many, and it won’t stop any time soon. 

Photo credit: Aidan Schwartz-Wayne

Barack Obama shed some light on this subject when he invited then-World Series champion Chicago Cubs to the White House in what would be the final team that visited during his presidency. 


Sports has a way, sometimes, of changing hearts in a way that politics or business doesn’t.  And sometimes it’s just a matter of us being able to escape and relax from the difficulties of our days, but sometimes it also speaks to something better in us.” 


Sports can build bridges between people, regardless of their differences. The feeling of joy that one feels when their team does well is infectious, and that is only amplified when other people also share that sentiment. Sports act as a unifier and a destresser. The NFL schedules a large majority (besides games on Thursday and Monday) to be on Sunday, a day that many adults have off. The NBA has games every day of the week, allowing audiences to tune in and watch even if the team they support the most isn’t playing. Soccer is the biggest sport outside North America (and some small countries) and arguably provides the most potential to bring people together because of the nationalism and pride surrounding one team represents an entire country. Major sports organizations mostly accommodate the average fan by scheduling games on favorable days to increase viewership, but that subsequently helps people gather and enjoy time watching big guys tackle each other for a little over an hour.

Barack also touches on how sports have been embedded in our culture and how that changes how we think today:


“Sports has changed attitudes and culture in ways that seem subtle, but that ultimately made us think differently about ourselves and who we are. It is a game and a celebration, but there is a direct line between Jackie Robinson and me standing here.”


Barack has been a fan of sports for a long time; he and Michelle own their own sports complex for the youth. His life in politics influences how he views the world, and subsequently, how he views sports. Obama believes that sports, “tell us a little something about what America is and what America can be.” Sports provide a glimpse into what could be the world we live in if everyone could come together and support each other as one.


Soloman Alexander, director of the St. Louis Sports Foundation and youth basketball and baseball coach for over 40 years had this to say about the effect sports have on kids. 


“I’ve been working with youth leagues for years now, and I can say with one hundred percent certainty that sports, no matter what kind, make kids come together. It forms a family-like environment and bond that becomes unbreakable and many of these kids that have grown up call me and tell me how they still hang out with friends they made playing baseball or basketball with as a kid. It’s so heartwarming to see, man, it gives you hope that one day people will finally love each other instead of looking for any excuse to tear each other down.”