Sportsmanship is as old an idea as athletic competition itself. After all, the first Olympic games were designed to foster peace and cooperation, a notion that at least still exists in theory today.

However, all too often, today's world of competitive sports seems to focus on massive contracts, endorsement deals and players siding with China over freedom and democracy to protect their lucrative self-interest. Players are brands, teams are profit generators and fans are stuck somewhere in between.


Then there are stories like that of Gage Smith and Ty Jordan that remind you of how powerful and inspiring athletes still can be. Smith and Jordan are high-school football rivals in Texas. They knew each other a little bit from having met in some statewide athletic events. Their respective teams were taking the field to play a game against each other, which ordinarily would focus on one team's triumph over the other. However, in this case, it's what happened after the game that has made national headlines.

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When Smith found out that Jordan's mother is battling cancer, he asked if he could pray with Jordan after the game. Jordan agreed and the two players quietly met on the field, crossed arms and kneeled in prayer.

"I just had a moment with him praying over him, his mom, and his family," Smith told CNN.

However, Jordan's aunt shared photos of the moment on her Facebook page where it has been shared over 140,000 times.

"To see that it blew up I was very surprised by it, and I wasn't expecting it to be like that you know, I was just doing it for him and doing it for his mom and his family," Smith said.

Related: An emotional Michael Jordan opens his first clinic for the uninsured and underinsured

It's strong evidence that people still look to the best of "good sportsmanship" for inspiration and meaning in our lives. You don't have to be a football fan, or even care about sports at all, to see the power of these two young men quietly setting an example of compassion, decency, and yes, leadership for their fellow students.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

When schools closed early in the spring, the entire country was thrown for a loop. Parents had to figure out what to do with their kids. Teachers had to figure out how to teach students at home. Kids had to figure out how to navigate a totally new routine that was being created and altered in real time.

For many families, it was a big honking mess—one that many really don't want to repeat in the fall.

But at the same time, the U.S. hasn't gotten a handle on the coronavirus pandemic. As states have begun reopening—several of them too early, according to public health officials—COVID-19 cases have risen to the point where we now have more cases per day than we did during the height of the outbreak in the spring. And yet President Trump is making a huge push to get schools to reopen fully in the fall, even threatening to possibly remove funding if they don't.

It's worth pointing out that Denmark and Norway had 10 and 11 new cases yesterday. Sweden and Germany had around 300 each. The U.S. had 55,000. (And no, that's not because we're testing thousands of times more people than those countries are.)

The president of the country's largest teacher's union had something to say about Trump's push to reopen schools. Lily Eskelsen Garcia says that schools do need to reopen, but they need to be able to reopen safely—with measures that will help keep both students and teachers from spreading the virus and making the pandemic worse. (Trump has also criticized the CDCs "very tough & expensive guidelines" for reopening schools.)

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