“The Enemy” in the Red Shirt

20 06 2011

Why do we teach our kids that it’s wrong to hate someone because of their skin colour, but it’s okay to hate them because of the colour of their shirt?

This weekend, I attended a soccer tournament with my son, the next future Messi.  As we found the field for our first game, the opposing team was warming up.  We walked past a group of boys and I smiled and said “Good morning”.  My son looked at me, and with a hushed whisper asked:  “Why are you talking to them, they’re the enemy?”  The Enemy?  A group of nine-year-old boys we had never before met in our lives were classified as “the enemy“?

The day proceeded, and as the tournament heated up, more and more tension started to build between teams.  At times, coaches got heated, and these nine-year warriors took the tensions to the field.  The battle raged on, fueled by the shouts of the coaches and parents.

I understand a healthy dose of competition among teams, but seeing them as “the enemy”?   Where did the sportsmanship go in sport? 

I have worked really hard as a parent to make sure that my kids see everyone as equal, and special; regardless or race, background or ability.  Perhaps, I missed this one.  Maybe I should have mentioned that the colour of their shirt doesn’t matter either.  

This made me re-think the way I cheer for my kids….made me re-think the way I talk about the games…..”The enemy” is not the kid in the other colour shirt.  “The enemy” is the unfounded hatred for someone you have never met….regardless of skin colour, or shirt colour.




One response

20 06 2011
Royan Lee

I wonder if it would help if we had some more formal rituals for sports in our culture. I don’t ever really see sportsmanship and respect for your opponent exercised at all, other than on a completely voluntary basis.

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