Monday, May 16, 2005

Sport that bonds

An experience over the weekend made me particularly aware of the potential bonding power of sport.

I was having dinner with a group of well-educated professionals from varying backgrounds and industries. The table included:
a Canadian business consultant (IBM)
a Swiss/ French business consultant (IBM)
a Malaysian business consultant (IBM),
a Swiss banker (private)
an American IT exec (mobile)
a Cambodian marketing specialist (with Coke, among others)
and myself

Initial attempts at conversation fell flat. The American made an attempt to spark debate about JFK’s assassination (there’s some conspiracy theory that Johnson was behind it) failed. Then the Swiss started a little discussion on the unavailable & quality of Swiss wine which was interesting but didn't go far. The topic that really pulled everyone in was sports.

The first sport that came up was soccer. This past weekend was huge for British soccer with many clubs playing key matches. The results could determine which teams would move up into a better league, and conversely, move down into a lower league. Despite the fact that there wasn’t a Brit at the table, many of them had been following these matches and they had strong opinions on the matter. Furthermore, the Asians at the table followed World Cup 2002 in Japan/Korea and we talked about that. And, of course, everyone had something to say about Beckham.

Then we moved to hockey. Again, everyone knew the basics and, of course, as Canadians we offered our “expertise” on any points in dispute. ;) The Swiss were really happy about our suspended NHL season because they’re able to watch players who would normally be in the NHL. The American was a huge Pittsburgh Penguins fan and the Malaysian loves Olympic hockey.

It was really amazing that we, a group of individuals from across the globe, can sit down and have fluid conversation on a topic we all have a perspective. Sport: don’t underestimate its power to transcend differences.


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