I like what the Salt Project has to say about religious respect. After the hockey events of the past week here in Canada’s capital, I thought that the same principles could apply to our sports religions.
I wrote earlier about the stewpot of hockey rivalry in our area. That was my way of trying to come to peace with residents of my town who support opposing teams. Playoff action creates even more tension. Above all else, people, we need to get along and respect each other. I invite you to adopt the Salt Project’s suggestions:
1. Educate yourself: Find out the history of your own organization and others. If you disagree with an action of someone on an opposing sports team, chances are your research will expose a similar transgression by someone on the team you support.
2. Be amazed or even converted into a better version of yourself: Allow room for awe, no matter the source, or the team. Try appreciating quality plays by either team. I think you will find you feel calmer and happier.
3. Be patient – Don’t form opinions too soon: Let time, or replays, mellow those knee-jerk reactions.
4. Build relationships: Nothing breaks down barriers like getting to know someone who holds an opposing viewpoint and discovering that they really aren’t so bad. Get to know someone who supports another team and look for something to admire.
5. Keep your sense of humour handy: This is good advice every day, but especially when it comes to sports. Sports are supposed to be fun, for the players and the fans. If animosity ruins the fun, there’s something wrong.
6. Ask questions – Listen: This is part two of Educate Yourself. As you build relationships with other people, suss out the roots of their dedication to their team. Ask them about their past experiences as a fan. Find out what fires their passion. Listen without injecting your own opinions into the mix.
7. Say “I don’t understand – yet”: If you feel strongly about your team, you likely won’t change your allegiances after a few conversations. That’s OK. Some day you might. Leave room for that possibility.
8. Experience how others worship: Step into the milieu of the fans of the opposition. Try on one of their jerseys. Maybe a little of the mojo will seep into you.
9. Honour Convictions – Don’t try to remake people into your own image: The people with whom you build relationships aren’t likely to change your mind after a few conversations, right? You’re not going to change theirs either. Honour their convictions and accept.
10. Eat together, play together, and hold each other’s babies: A game of pick-up road hockey followed by a pizza feast, perhaps? Let your kids play together. Build relationships through food and fun.
11. Embrace mystery: Anything can happen in sports. Open yourself to the mysterious possibilities and embrace whatever comes.
12. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you: Ah, the Golden Rule. Always good to keep in mind.
Above all else, we need to get along and respect each other.