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Balling Out: How Sports are Bringing People Together in 2022

Through inspiring unity, equality, empathy, and confidence, sports have been bringing people across the globe together for decades.

sport 2022
Image: ESB Professional/Shutterstock

With war, revolution, and corrupt governments plaguing the globe, it’s easy to brand Nationalism with a scarlet letter.

If done incorrectly, citizens banding together can cause bad blood between one country and another. However, sporting events such as the World Cup, Wimbledon, and even the Olympics reveal that supporting one’s own country doesn’t always have to come at the expense of someone else’s. In fact, by encouraging people to root for athletes from nations all across the world, modern sports are bringing nations together in ways never seen before. 

In Olympic sports, everyone is equal, irrespective of their background, gender, social status, or beliefs. This principle of non-discrimination in sports allows the Olympic Games to promote peace and understanding among all people.

Thomas Bach, The UN Chronicle

According to the International Olympic Committee, worldwide sporting events are unique in that they promote equality, universality, and non-discrimination. This is done by allowing people of all backgrounds to show off their skills and by promoting healthy competition. The structure of the sport levels the playing field by ensuring that everyone follows the same rules, and fosters empathy and understanding between the athletes and their nations at large. These sentiments work to create what United Nations Secretary Ban Ki-moon refers to as “a peaceful society.” 

The Christmas Truce

Two men shake hands over a football. Credit: John Hewitt/Shutterstock

Commonly known in the United States as “Soccer,” football has inspired young men for generations. Not only does it delight dozens of children, but there are multiple recorded incidents of football pausing international conflicts. The most famous of these is known as the “Christmas Truce.” 

The first Christmas during World War One was a hellish time for troops. Between muddy trenches, freezing rain, and the enemy less than one hundred yards away, the conditions were nothing short of a nightmare. However, when Second Lieutenant Alfred Dougan Chater woke up on December 25th, 1914, he was shocked by what he saw. 

Men from both the German and British trenches were marching across “No Man’s Land” to shake hands and share Christmas cheer. More than one football appeared, and games broke out across ground that had before been reserved for bloodshed. Not only did the games lighten everyone’s spirits, but they revealed the true compassion of humanity.

The decisions of world leaders had plunged the continent into conflict, but a simple game had brought joy, equality, and unity for a few precious hours. This is the most famous historical incident of football uniting opposing nations, but it is certainly not the last. 

The World Cup

World Cup trophy in front of the World Cup Stadium. Credit: Sanjay JS/Shutterstock

This year brought with it the 22nd FIFA World Cup. Football players from across the world flocked to Doha, Qatar with the hopes to bring back a golden trophy for their home country. This caused tempers to fly high, nerves to skyrocket, and compassion to prevail. Particularly, during an early Group C match between Argentina and Croatia, a conversation between Argentinian striker Lionel Messi and Polish forward Robert Lewandowski went viral after pictures of the two men congratulating each other was shared on social media.


This moment came after Argentina’s 2-0 win over Poland, and many fans believed it showed the maturity and respect that football is known for. During the match, Messi accidentally ignored a handshake offered by Lewandowski. Yet, as soon as the final whistle blew the two men were hugging and wishing each other luck in the later rounds. The heated competition of the game allowed them to “fight” for their countries in a fun and empowering way, while still holding true to their values. 

Furthermore, following the World Cup Final when Argentina prevailed over defending champion France, the streets of Buenos Aires were flooded with people of all ages celebrating, crying, and cheering for their nation. The National pride showed at that time coupled with the unwavering support from the French fans for their defeated team expounded upon this earlier show of unity. This further reveals the true depth to which football can bring people together within and across national lines. 


Tennis rackets, champagne, and cherries in the grass. Credit: Nada54/Shutterstock

Another major world sporting event in 2022 is the 135th edition of Wimbledon. This year’s competitive tennis season brought with it many major retirements. However, there was none more heartfelt than that of Roger Federer. Federer, a 20-time Tennis Grand Slam Champion, has been suffering from a knee injury for the past two years and has undergone multiple surgeries in hopes of achieving full fitness. Yet, when that became impossible, the Swiss maestro was forced to call time on his illustrious career. 

Following his final match at the 2022 Laver Cup, Federer reached over and grasped the hand of fellow competitor Rafael Nadal. The two men were partnered for Federer’s final doubles match, and tears quickly followed. Even though the two arch-rivals turned best friends were not able to win in the end, the entire stadium cheered as Federer took his last steps off the court. 

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal share an emotional moment. Credit: Ella Ling/Shutterstock

Men and women from all nations recognized Federer’s skill, perseverance, and contribution to the sport. They didn’t need to fully understand him to respect him, and this brought them closer together as they all rooted for his success. Not only this but the iconic photo above showcasing the friendship between Federer and Nadal after many years of competition illustrates the true extent to which sports can bridge divides. 

The National Football League of America

Football with the National Football League logo. Credit: Twin Design/Shutterstock

Not only can sports aid in bringing people together from different countries, but they can create communities within them as well. Recently, the Buffalo Bills, a prominent American football team, have created a major name for themselves in terms of giving back to the community that supports them. 

Like European football, American football revolves around fans that are willing to give their all in support of their players. For the Buffalo Bills, these fans mean dozens of young boys that have dreamed of making it to the NFL themselves and want to be just like their idols. As such, it was major when Wide Receiver Stefon Diggs coordinated with Mayor Byron Brown of Buffalo in order to organize an event for local students. With Diggs’ assistance, over 500 kids received new backpacks, haircuts, and free internet connection. 


Not only this, but Diggs’ teammate Micah Hyde organized a massive fundraiser the same week to raise proceeds for families impacted by the recent shooting on Jefferson Avenue. These major instances of giving back are not uncommon for the Buffalo Bills players, and the team has made quite a name for itself through charity. By reaching out to their local community and using their resources to make a difference, the Buffalo Bills are creating a stronger and more peaceful community within the United States, one built on the values prized by the Olympic Committee. 

This emphasis on unity, empathy, equality, and cooperation is one that is held by sports across the world. Whether it be Football, “Soccer,” Tennis, or even smaller sports such as Baseball, athletics are paving the way for a more united society that values giving back, supporting others, and wholesome, patriotic pride.

Written By

Laurie Griffith is a second-year undergraduate student at the University of Florida studying English with minors in Mass Communication and Classical Studies. In her free time, she enjoys devouring young adult novels, baking poorly, and practicing gymnastics with her club team.

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