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Home / Articles / Columnists / Sports Feature /  Sports as a bridge: IT MATTERS
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Friday, August 5,2016

Sports as a bridge: IT MATTERS

By Mark Tudino  



One of the underlying – and most debated – aspects of sports is that it creates a kind of communication not found in other aspects of modern society. A kind of shorthand that exists between friends, or strangers, which can instantly identify someone as having something in common with another person.


Don’t think so? Where else can people as dissimilar as the dockworker and the billionaire care about the outcome of a sporting event with equal fervor and passion? In Europe, it’s not unusual to see just that sort of cultural cross-pollination when a person watches any of the 1st Division soccer teams compete. And when the national teams play? Forget about it. Yes, the over-exuberance can sometimes lead to trouble, but most sociologists praise sport as being the great unifier. Just look at Portugal, which recently won its first Euro Cup Soccer championship; doubtless the guys on that team are more popular than Vasco Da Gama these days.

But what’s even more fascinating about the whole sport-as-cultural-touchstone-thing is when athletes bridge the gap between themselves - and in turn teach us something about ourselves. In previous visits to this space we’ve examined friendships which transcended different sports, yet there have been other sporting friendships which were, arguably, more important; not for who was involved but for what these friendships stood for at the time.

In 1936, at the Berlin Olympics, much was made of Jesse Owens’ four gold medals, including his wins in the sprints and the long jump. But he might have never even made the long jump final if not for the help of a fellow competitor, German Luz Long, who was white. While historians may differ as to the level of Long’s assistance, Owens himself never forgot the gesture made by the young German who, at the time, was thought by some to represent alleged Aryan superiority. Yet, in that brief moment, perhaps the ideal of the Olympic spirit was best captured because it taught all of us that we could compete, but still respect and admire our opponent.

Fast forward to the late 1960’s - a tumultuous period in our history. But in the NFL, a black man and a white man became the first teammates to room together – ever. While their careers – and their lives – would take very different turns, no one who ever learned of the Gale Sayers/Brian Piccolo story would ever forget it. If they did, Hollywood made sure we wouldn’t: Brian’s Song still ranks as the highest-rated TV movie ever made.

So, yes, we are different, but we are also the same. We breathe the same air, wish for the same good health, and dream the best for our children; sometimes it’s good to remember more unites us than divides us.

And if we ever do forget, there’s always a box score nearby to remind us.

Mark Tudino is an attorney with offices in both Miami-Dade and Broward counties, whose practice specializes in all areas of civil litigation. He has lived in South Florida for more than 20 years. Prior to attending law school, he was a political and sports reporter for television stations across the country. His career allowed him to cover everything from presidential elections to national championship sports teams, and he still maintains a passion to observe and discuss the world of sports. Attorney at Law. 954-983-8000. 3475 Sheridan Street Suite #211. Hollywood, FL 33021.


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