Aiding the Enemy?

Posted by jlubans on January 07, 2014

Caption: Rugby player reaching out.
Every Christmas holiday break in the USA there’s lots of sports TV. Some of my favorite teams are playing, losing, winning. One of the things I’ve been looking for this season is occurrences of a seemingly recent phenomenon: an opponent helping another’s team’s players get back on his or her feet. For some fans that’s downright treasonly, aiding and abetting! For others, it is sportsmanship, a hand up freely given, the golden rule applied, and acted upon for all to see.
One star pro football player says he was yelled at by coaches for offering a helping hand. His retort had some smoke on it:
“I don't care. Kiss my butt. Listen, if I want to help somebody, I'm going help somebody up. Because right on the next play I'm going to knock him down again!”
Another report (be sure to scroll to the bottom) supports the rumored existence of monetary fines for helping opponents. While down, a quarterback reaches for the proffered hand of the opponent, #91, who appears to respond by doing what his mother taught him to do – help others. But then #91realizes his faux pas!
Caption: The Bear Bryant Legend in bronze.
Some coaches/players are less paranoid. For example, one of America’s most revered football coaches, “Bear” Bryant, did not mind his players helping an opponent. There was a condition, however. The player had to tell the opponent to get used to being flattened!
When I search for images on this topic only a few come up. Understandably, the helping hand is post-action, the play is over – why photograph it? For me, this sign of magnanimity is a touch of sanity, a spark of selflessness in a winning-is-everything culture. I think images of opponents acting in a decent way toward a knocked down player, however little it has to do with the game’s outcome, sends a reminder to viewers of all ages. It is only a game - but we know it is more than a game, and so we respect other players and, when they are down, we stop and offer our help. That’s no different than a woman with a baby stroller following me into a building. Do I hold the door or do I let it slam in her face?
In the world of work, I am unimpressed with the organization that demeans its competition. It may be true - the competition may be incompetent - but I want to hear what the organization’s product has to offer, not what the competitor’s lacks! If the competition is as gawdawful as it’s made out to be, I’ll find out for myself.
I am more impressed with the organization that points me to a competitor because that competitor offers a unique service or item I need. Does that mean I abandon the referring organization? Hardly; I become a more loyal customer.

Copyright John Lubans 2014

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