Your opponent is not your enemy. Opponents are people we compete against. We want to defeat them. We want the win. We want the trophy. We also understand opponents are necessary for the game to be played. Our best opponents become rivals. Cardinals-Cubs, Blues-Blackhawks, Michigan-Ohio State, Grambling-Southern, Alabama-Auburn, Lakers-Celtics, UConn-Tennessee and Agassi-Sampras are a few examples of classic sports rivalries. Each side competes with everything they have. There have been close calls, blowouts and officiating controversies. Fans have cried tears of joy and tears of disappointment.
It’s an emotional rollercoaster where athletes and fans experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. And at the end of every season though, we can’t wait to mark our calendars to go through the same thing next year.
Enemies, on the other hand, are those who wish you harm and there is no benefit to having them around at all. History identifies them clearly. We know their names and objectives. Your fiercest opponent in sports is not trying to eradicate you. At worst, they want to run up the score and rub it in your face, but they still want to play against you next time. Opponents ultimately respect you. To compete with your side brings out the best in them and they know it. Enemies think the world would be a better place without you.
There is a clear distinction between opponents and enemies. Let’s not confuse one with the other nor conflate one with the other. We’ll all be better competitors, fans and citizens for it.