Hulne: Sports have helped Austin become a welcoming community

Published 1:49 pm Monday, January 16, 2023

Sometimes the more you see of someone, the more you understand that they are more like you than you may have guessed.

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I spent a good amount of time on Monday thinking of how lucky we are to live in Austin. All you have to do is go to a basketball or soccer game and you will see a blend of cultures from people who have their roots scattered all over the globe.

Kids from Ethiopia to South Sudan, to Vietnam have all found themselves in SpamTown and it’s all worked out for the best. Not only have those teams produced a lot of winning seasons, they’ve brought the community closer together.

One by one, parents of athletes and fans who attend the games have found themselves learning about other cultures and embracing them.

There is a comfort level at these sporting events where all are welcome and nobody is discriminated against because of what they look like or where they are from. In a day and age where you hear horror stories of bad fan behavior on social media, Austin has stood out as a respectful community that rarely crosses any lines.

Behind the scenes, the people of Austin have supported each other in many ways – whether it be buying shoes for a player, driving them to games or just supporting them in public.

I was a direct recipient of this treatment a couple of years ago when I was driving my son and a pair of his teammates to a youth basketball game in Albert Lea. I was going to buy all three kids McDonald’s after the game, but I never got the chance.

The car ahead of me ‘paid it forward’ and purchased the meals for the kids and I. It was a humbling gesture and those boys sure enjoyed it.

It’s moments like this that should be highlighted on the news, not those of disagreement. 

The more we get together and get along, the better we’ll all be.