It wasn’t until I sat down that the conflicted expectations of social decorum settled in. Bleachers were only available on one side of the court, so parents and students of both teams gathered around me, intensifying the internal conflict and mild anxiety.
Before me, Pilot Butte Middle School and Cascade Middle School ran through passing drills on opposing sides of the net, preparing for the upcoming volleyball match. As they completed their warm-up pass, each player ran to the back of the line and quickly looked across the net, stealing glances to size up their opponent.
Us versus them.
One team wore green. The other, red.
Parents and students donned t-shirts and sweatshirts representing their specific middle school. My oldest daughter sat next to me, sporting her own favored Pilot Butte sweatshirt. (The one that creates domestic strife. “Don’t you think wearing the same sweatshirt 10 days in a row is a little too much?”)
But I didn’t choose to attend to support my son’s and daughter’s middle school. I attended to cheer on one of the middle school students from my church.
She played on the other team.
The ref blew the whistle as the teams took their 6-player formation. My internal voice went into overdrive. The unspoken monologue went something like this:
“I’m here to cheer on our church’s middle school student. But if my daughter’s teammates and coaches see me cheering for Cascade’s team, how will that reflect on my daughter? Or me? And what will the other Pilot Butte families think?”
How our affiliated teams and tribes can highly factor into our innate value for acceptance and community. Because there are only two logical choices, right?
Us versus Them?
How many lines of demarcation have been created in this world? How many ways are we able to divide up humanity and then create the fictitious belief that our tribe is the most superior to all others? One side is made up of winners. The other, losers. Once we divide, humans have this innate propensity to judge with the measuring stick of superiority and inferiority.
Funny how our particular tribe is always located on the superior side of the dividing line.
Is it possible to transcend this matrix? What if we took the dividing line away, just for today? Yes, I’d be viewed as strange. But what would it look like if we didn’t cheer for a team but cheered for our kids?
Because they’re all our kids.
I sat in my resolve and was going to do something I had never done before. Cascade served the ball and Pilot Butte was able to make a successful return.
I cheered for Pilot Butte.
Cascade was able to use two of their three allowable hits to return the ball back to Pilot Butte.
I cheered for Cascade.
I imagine those who surrounded me in the bleachers were suspect that I had fallen off my rocker. Or must have mistaken my schools and would right this ship.
Cascade served the ball again. I applauded the server for her consistency.
Pilot Butte returned the ball with a well placed bump. I applauded the player who displayed control and got the ball back over the net.
Our church’s middle school student returned the ball back to Pilot Butte. I cheered her on emphatically.
Us versus them?
Because they’re all our kids.