In Dean Register’s Minister’s Manual, he tells a story about a pastor, Leith Anderson, who grew up as an avid fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers. One year his father took him to a World Series game where his beloved Dodgers were playing their hated cross-town rivals, the New York Yankees. Anderson was sure his Dodgers were going to win, but he was bitterly disappointed when they never even got on base and lost the game 2-0.
Years later Anderson had an opportunity to share his World Series experience with another avid baseball fan. “It was such a disappointment,” he told the man, “the Dodgers never even got to base.”
“You mean you were actually there?” the man asked in amazement. “You were there when the Yankees’ Don Larsen pitched the only perfect game in World Series’ history? That must have been amazing!”
Because Anderson had been so wrapped up in the rivalry he missed out on appreciating the most dominating pressure-packed pitching performance ever displayed in the baseball finals. Sportsmanship at its core is about remembering that the guys on the other team are our opponents, not our enemies – they’re fellow human beings, made in God’s image. If we recognize that it isn’t going to cut into our intensity, but should cut down on our crosschecks. And while we’re always going to cheer on our hometown boys, if we eliminate the hate we’ll also be able to appreciate a brilliance performance by the other team’s guy.