Over decades of life experiences, personally lived and experiences and teachings passed on to me by my beloved father, there has been one pervasive and enduring principle: The unifying and “universal language of sport”. The various disciplines of sport throughout certainly the previous and current century have been able to set aside national, cultural, ethnic, social, tribal differences for the noble pursuit of reaching ever higher goals through competition, when performed fairly.
This was no more evident to my father, who was an active participant for Hungary, in 1936, at the Olympic Games in Berlin. Despite the gathering storm clouds of world-wide conflict looming, thousands of athletes from many countries and continents came to match their skills against one another. “Stronger – Faster- Higher”, as the Olympic motto goes…
One of the most remarkable things that happened at those Games was the highly successful accomplishments (Gold medals) of the great Jesse James, a black man from America, who most certainly faced not only outright discrimination in his homeland, but also ridicule, hate, denial of opportunities, jobs etc., who nevertheless formed a lasting and deep friendship with his beaten opponent, Luz Long, representing the already thoroughly “Nazified” Germany. This amazing bond and friendship, which endured through correspondence and personal meetings was only interrupted by WWII and Long’s death, as a soldier, fighting for his nation of Germany.
Yet, separated by distance, framed not only by physical distance but of that of language, of race, of culture, the one central theme in this friendship, solid as a rock, was the unconditional, brotherly love of one human being for another, athlete or not. Unquestionably, their friendship was bound by athletic pursuit and the thrill of competition, but what was the foundation of all of this, was mutual respect and love for each another, despite the chasm that separated them through their upbringing and the color of their skin.
Jesse Owens, who outlived Luz Long by many years, had every reason to be bitter, angry towards the society he was born into, that celebrated him, for sure, but which denied him the most basic opportunities in life even after his amazing accomplishments. Yet, he endured all suffering and trials with dignity and grace. Why? Because he was a true follower of Christ!
The circumstances under which Jesse and Luz met; sport and competition, is what made it possible, during a brief period of time, at an international event, to reach across barriers and obstacles, physical, social, cultural or spiritual; to compete, to shake hands, to celebrate, to congratulate, and to commiserate if necessary, all with one purpose.
This is why Sport2Hope is an organization I support, help develop, work for and with, because of the tools that sport, pursued and performed at every age level affords us – to reach out, to inspire, to educate, to assist children to become men and women of character, compassion and resolve!
We, the “ambassadors” of S2H, because of these universally accepted tools, can go anywhere in the world, without fear, to help, to support, to build bridges, to teach, to coach and to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28), with boldness and with wisdom.
So come join us in our journey. Come help us transform the world, little by little, on the pitches and courts of play, and in the fields of life.