I made myself comfortable on the sofa, reached for the remote control and turned on the television. Coming up, was a two hour long soccer feast. A match between two national teams I had little connection to and could therefore enjoy the game without any emotional side effects.
I had not watched the game for long when two players in one of the teams drew my attention. They were players for a club who were the arch rivals of my favorite team in the English league. They annoyed me. I found them to be arrogant. I could not tolerate them. I hated them. I hated their teammates and compatriots. I started automatically to cheer for the other team. Their opponents. I got annoyed at the referee when he judged foul against my team. Yes, the opponents of my opponents were now my team.
I was in a somber mood when I stood up in half-time and went to grab a cold been from the refrigerator. The game had been vivid. Both teams had good ball control and played rapid passes. They had created many opportunities in front of each of the goals and scored one a piece. On the other hand, I was stiff, my muscles were tense and I had an urge to hit doorposts with my fists. I felt that my team was losing.
When I opened the fridge, a light came on. Actually and metaphorically. The absurdity of the moment became clear in front of my eyes. By hating the players I had ruined for myself the relaxed and enjoyable moment the match had been supposed to give me. What was I thinking? I loathed myself. This could not be healthy. Neither for the body nor the soul—biologically nor existentially—neither for the individual nor for society as a whole. Something had to be changed.
While the players of both teams collected strength and experts discussed the first half, I walked in circles around the dining room table in order to calm my nerves and collect my thoughts. I became determined to combat this hatred that got hold of me so often when I was exposed to competitive sports. I decided that from now on I would stop discriminating between soccer teams. From now on I was in each moment going to cheer for the team that was in possession of the ball at the time.