I usually find the “mascot” custom in European football to be ridiculous, bordering on creepy, but there are occasionally circumstances that make it all worthwhile. American sports fans are probably unaware of how an English Premier League team has adopted a dying little boy befriended by its star striker as its mascot.
Bradley Lowery led out his beloved Sunderland for their final home match of the season against Swansea, just a day after his parents announced that his cancer is spreading. The brave five-year-old was the club’s mascot for their final Premier League match at the Stadium of Light this year and also featured on the front cover of the matchday programme. Wearing a Sunderland shirt which thanked the club and fans for their support, Bradley walked on to the pitch in the arms of England striker Defoe, with whom the five-year-old has struck up a close bond…. The five-year-old may have to spend his sixth birthday in hospital but he was able to fulfil his wish to be at the Stadium of Light for the final game of the season.
There are a lot of things wrong with sports, and professional sports in particular. But there are things that are right about them too. In this case, it is a powerful reminder of how love can transcend the evils of a fallen world.