This week, Iran suspended two soccer players for life from playing on the Iranian national team. Did they take performance enhancing drugs? Did they receive elicit payments from gamblers? No - they played in a soccer match between their Greek club team and Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Sports can serve as a unifying force that helps people of different backgrounds come together in a competitive environment with agreed upon rules. The political implications of such interactions have long been understood - be it during hockey summits or ping pong diplomacy.
The Iranians appreciate this. They subjugate sport to the political goal of de-legitimizing Israel. As a community, we also relegate sport to a secondary role when compared to other values. Our children participate in Shomer Shabbat hockey leagues - they make special arrangements with coaches to skip baseball practices on Yom Tov.
In a world obsessed with the fame and money of sport, we should admire those people who place sport in proper relation to other values. However, those values should not be hatred for another people, but instead they should protect our humanity and create a space for God in our lives.