There’s No Way We Can Lose
By Jeremy Gulley
As is the case with the subject of many of my last columns, this week I was struck by the comparison of two different and opposing events. Where last week I compared the loud boasting of inconsequential actions by Facebook to the unheralded actions of Nicholas Winton, this week I couldn’t help noting the differences in two sporting events.
The first happened in game seven of the NBA playoffs between the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers. Played in Indiana, at halftime young fans lined up near the locker room to cheer on their team. David West, an Indiana forward, was caught on camera walking to the locker room and avoiding each and every one of the young fans as they reached out to give him a low five. Each and every young fan, who look up to David West and his teammates, were ignored and snubbed and the actions of a self-absorbed athlete who thinks he is bigger than the game were broadcast into millions of homes.
The next day on the other side of the world, soccer fans in Russia witnessed a different type of event. That night, Vadim Evseev, a famous and very successful Russian soccer player retired. To honor him, his coach took him out of the game at the 67th minute so he could get an ovation from the crowd, who hold him in high regard due to his accomplishments. Evseev’s replacement in the game was a 5 year old boy named Hrisan Dzheus, the son of a local and well respected director of a Russian children’s charity.
Evseev’s team was down 4-1, so as the young replacement dribbled the ball downfield, his opponents pretended to try and stop him. They acted out the parts with humor and playfulness, finally allowing the young boy to score a goal and make the score 4-2. Then both teams congratulated the boy and gave him the ball he scored with, and made a big deal about his accomplishment. The boy’s face told the story of how much the experience meant, and both teams are better off because of it.
See, the Pacers lost their game against the heat. They are done for the season and have to think about their loss until next year. But West has more to deal with than a loss in the playoffs, he also lost the respect of a lot of people in Indiana, as well as basketball fans across the nation – myself being one of them. I was rooting for Indiana until I saw West’s snub. I know that changing my mind may seem like a knee-jerk reaction, but I can’t root for someone who ignores those who allow him the privilege of playing pro sports, especially when it comes to children.
West lost much more than a game, whereas Evseev’s opponents won much more than a game. Instead of winning 4-1 they won 4-2, but in the process, they also served to remind us that, at the end of the day, pro sports aren’t that serious – after all, they are just a game. They also showed us that being a little selfless and having some fun is more important than the final score of a game.
I think that we should all be less concerned about the final score, and more concerned about how we treat people along the way. If we do that, there really isn’t a way we can lose.
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