One Team - One Country : When a President embraced a controversial sport


Every now and then, Sports and ESPN actually have something worth sharing.

The documentary, The 16th Man, is perhaps one of the greatest short films about race, love, reconciliation, and humility that I've ever seen. 

There could be no democracy without peace. No liberation without reconciliation (via).

I understand that there are many differences that break the parallel between Nelson Mandela's story and President Trump's current narrative, and I get that to compare the two is unfair, for many reasons, but the climate is pretty close. Or, at least, it could easily become so.

But where I ache to have a president like Mandela is this: Mandela loved his enemies as much as his friends. Instead of creating division and instilling fear, he calmed and soothed tension, even inviting those who hated him to be some of his trusted advisors - much like another great President. Mandela, through grace and patience,  prevented a war. He didn't instigate them. Because he understood that his role, his power, was to be used as a tool to serve, unite clashing people groups, and embrace an entire country - not just those with whom he agreed. 

After spending 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela, president of the very people who imprisoned him, believed more in the power of love and compassion and forgiveness than he did in the guns.

So, when it came to sport and the debated Springbok, Nelson Mandela embraced it, believing it had the power to change the world. 

"In a country torn apart by racism, the game of rugby was a symbol of violent division. Yet, one man say it as a path for peace, when all roads seemed to lead to civil war."

The Springbok, the sport of rugby, was a symbol of their country, so Mandela embraced it, and the men who played it, uniting 43 million South Africans. 

And the people chanted their president's name, rejoicing, as one.

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