Eye Pokes and Hugs

Photo by Steve Jurkovic

Sunday was a historic day in roller derby, as the Rose City Rollers defeated the “Goliath” known as Gotham (for those outside of the sport, that’s Portland, Oregon vs. New York City).

To me, what was more historic was this photo.  At the end of the bout, Bonnie Thunders hugged rival Rose City Jammer Loren Mutch.   Thunders is widely considered the “LeBron James” of derby.  Both women are respected athletes and have gone toe-to-toe a few times, including the World Championships last year and yesterday.

It showed a level of class on Thunders’ part that she stopped and hugged the opposition.  The bout, like the year before, went down to the last jam.  It was high-impact, high speed, and highly emotional.

Meanwhile, a Denver Broncos’ player is accused of poking the Colts’ Dwayne Allen in the eye near the end of their game in Indy yesterday.

On the one hand, you have amateur athletes hugging, but their professional counterparts are poking each other in the eye?  Really?  That seems less than mature.

The Denver/Indy game was as easily hard-fought as Rose/Gotham, but the spirit was different.  Fans were sobbing publicly when the final whistle blew on that last jam. Grown men and women from all over the world were watching, either in-person or on ESPN3.   Bars hosted viewing parties, a first for many cities around the globe.

I feel as though professional athletes could learn a thing or two about sportsmanship from the amateurs.  They displayed a level of professional class last night and all season long.

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