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Lessons From a Game

Thousands of us waited anxiously, hoping and praying that “Bucks in 6” would go from slogan to reality. Millions more watched as 65,000 people jammed into downtown Milwaukee to root for their home team. And I think I can say with confidence of those who celebrated in and around the Deer District:

-No one cared who was a Democrat, a Republican, an Independent, a Socialist or a Communist

-No one cared what color anyone was

-No one cared who was a Catholic or a Protestant, a Lutheran or an evangelical, a Jew or an atheist, or any denomination in between

-No one cared how much money anyone else made or what people did or didn’t do for a living

-No one cared where someone lived, or how they lived

All anyone really cared about was: “Bucks in 6.”

Why? Why did Milwaukee, dubbed one of the most racist and segregated cities in America, embrace a team made up mostly of Black men? Why did Wisconsin, which helped to elect Donald Trump as president in 2016, support an immigrant from Greece, a kid born of Nigerian parents, hailing him as their new-found hero?

Why, indeed?

What is it about sport that makes us put aside our differences? Some answers are obvious, like pursuit of a common goal. Pride in community. The thrill of victory. Admiration of athletic ability so beyond the average person that we can only dream of being in his or her sneakers.

But why? Beyond the obvious, what is it about sport the makes us color-blind, makes us embrace ignorance of personal politics, religion, race, social and economic status? Why will we willingly and readily high-five the person sitting next to us in the stands after a great play, when to see that same person on the street the day before, we might go out of our way to walk on the other side?

Why does sport apparently bring out the best in us?

And the most important question of all:

How can we replicate this experience when there isn’t a game or match on the line?


  1. Amen sista! Why indeed. Work to be done.

  2. Could it be because we won? Nobody wants to be the loser! We hug strangers, we laugh, can’t stop smiling, look at the people doing the recount, they lost! They want to do it over!! It hurts to lose. But sometimes it can’t be done over, you have to live with what you’ve got! Unhappiness, lose of a loved one, Family falling apart, Your insides hurt when you lose, you stop smiling never ever hug a stranger, even cry 😭!

    • You make a good point, but let me ask this: if we had lost, would people in that crowd have turned on each other, or would they have turned to each other to commiserate? I would hope it’s the latter!

  3. And driving your point home is the Olympics right before our very eyes. It proves we drop our preconceived notions and boundaries, if only for a brief time and cheer one another on striving for excellence. Indeed, how do we keep our joyous accepting mindset once we’re off the field/court/pool, etc.? How indeed.

    • So very true. Watching American swimmer Katie Ledecky congratulate Aussie swimmer Ariarne Titmus, listening to how the two of them gave each other credit for becoming the incredible swimmers that they are–what a lesson in grace, good sportpersonship and class. How can we get more of that?

  4. I also have been saying to all that celebrated Milwaukee during the playoffs and claiming Milwaukee as their team (especially if they live elsewhere) to remember Milwaukee’s needs for education, housing, etc and advocate with the legislature.

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