Sports were created to bring people together, not tear them apart. There are enough things to argue about these days without athletics being one of them.

With a cowbell banging behind me and a woman screeching next to me, I tried to focus on what was taking place on the field.

Our eighth-grade football team was down 22-0 in the third quarter. Things weren’t looking good for the home team. 

The new bleachers haven’t yet been installed, so my husband, friends and I opted to sit in the visiting section, along with a few other home-team fans. We made sure to sit to the side and not in the middle of things.

Talk about a hostile environment. You’d think I was wearing a Red Sox shirt and sitting with Yankees fans in Yankee stadium, not next to parents who live two towns over.

With plenty of space in front of us, one woman went as far as to rudely step directly on the bench in front of us where our feet were resting without so much as an “excuse me.” It was clear we were not welcome. 

We sat mostly in silence and clapped when our team did something well. 

I don’t really understand the mentality. Yes, our kids are playing against yours. Sure, it would be great if our team won, but aren’t we all parents here? Don’t we just want what’s best for our kids? Rejoice in a win, but learn how to accept and handle defeat?

After the game, I was scrolling through social media and a video caught my attention.

An apparent foul ball landed in the stands at a Major League Baseball game. A guy in a Red Sox hat ended up with the stray ball. Instead of keeping it, he turned and gave it to a little girl decked out in a Yankees shirt. Excited, she began to walk away, paused, then headed back to the man and hugged him.

We aren’t always going to root for the same team, but does that mean we have to treat each other disrespectfully?

Does the outcome of an eighth-grade football game really matter all that much? If the Red Sox don’t win the pennant, does it mean our lives are shattered?

When you aren’t in the stadium or in the bleachers, how do you conduct yourself?

We are all in this together, folks. Winning and watching our kids succeed certainly feels good. There’s nothing wrong with cheering on your team, but try to keep in mind that the sports arena isn’t supposed to be a negative experience.

Sports were created to bring people together, not tear them apart. There are enough things to argue about these days without athletics being one of them. 

The parents sitting in the same stands as you, but wearing a different team color, are not the enemy. If you are lucky enough to watch your children perform in an athletic game, doing something they enjoy, be grateful. Try to keep it in perspective. At the end of the day, if our children are healthy, thriving and home, then that’s all that really matters.

Heather Michonski is a columnist for Gatehouse Media New England. She can be reached at harrisheatherl@gmail.com.