As I write this blog post in the Denver International Airport, I am struck by how small our world has become. Headscarves, Cubs caps, and military uniforms adorn the many travelers who push on to their various destinations. Even now, in an era where facts and identity have been thrown into question, our species continues to build bridges between cultures, classes, and passions. The mechanisms responsible for this closing gap are complex and interconnected; one however, has been constant for thousands of years: competitive sport.
A while back, I attended an Outlaw Soccer party in Austin Texas to support the United States Men’s National Team against Honduras in a qualifying match for the World Cup. Sixty strangers had crammed themselves in a barroom far too small for comfort. Twelve Hondurans had also set up shop and were singing refrains for their team. There was a nervous energy in the air. The USMNT had a weak opening in qualifying, and its bid for the World Cup was in jeopardy. A draw or a loss would have dashed our nation’s World Cup dream, America needed a triumph. Our anxiety turned to shock and ecstasy as our champions scored a quick and decisive goal. Honduras attempted to respond, but the US defensive line held, then retaliated, scoring another within ten minutes. The atmosphere became electric and heated. Together, sixty strangers became siblings, from many walks of life, cultural groups, and ages. They became a single tribe under a unifying banner. We sang songs, shouted chants, and bought each other drinks. Within fifteen minutes, the deep divisions that plague American society were shattered and scattered to the winds. After Honduras’ crushing defeat, US fans approached the stunned Honduran fans and embraced them, thanking them for their spirit and their passion. Even though they supported our team’s competition, they were also our friends and allies. We were unified by the passion of the game, the love of country, and the brotherhood of community. As the event wound down, the attendees drifted out into the warm night as siblings and citizens, children of United States of America.
There is such power, such momentum, in sport. It can awaken a magic within us. The arena becomes a portal to a mythic space where dynasties are still forged and broken, where people and places still rise to take their place amongst the legends of their kin. Sports have become a language of legend, where games and players become a sacred history, their deeds passed down through generations. Sports teaches us a timeless and intimately human lesson: victory is not earned by fleeing struggle or conflict, but to rally, to rise, and to conquer. Sports teach us that together, we are as indomitable as the heroes of our oldest legends.
Fifteen years ago, a PC game called StarCraft: Broodwar proved to the world that this transformative space was not bound to the physical world, but could be experienced digitally. As a wide eyed adolescent, I watched StarCraft professionals wage battle across hundreds of imaginary worlds with the speed of a concert pianist and the cunning of Sun Tzu. I, and thousands of other young people from a dozen nations, watched this strange and magnificent spectacle. What began as a window has become a world unto itself. I, along with many others, seek to grow that world and make it a place that pushes our generation forward to new heights.
I look forward to sharing this journey with you.
-Dylan Kahn, Creative Lead for SunSpear Games