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Uncommon Decency

The actions taken today by Brazil’s other First Division Soccer Clubs to keep Chapecoense a viable franchise are among the most admirable in sports history.

In the aftermath of the tragedy that killed 75 of the 81 people on board the Chapecoense football team’s chartered jet to Medellin, Columbia, the nineteen other clubs in Brazil’s First Division agreed to a set of principles that will enable the beleaguered team from Southern Brazil to remain a viable franchise.

They agreed to exempt Chapecoense from relegation for three years. Chapecoense had only recently been promoted to the First Division after decades of playing further down on the country’s professional pyramid. Moreover, the other clubs have offered Chapecoense access to first division talent by providing them with players free on loan, which, in American professional sports terms, would amount to an expansion draft.

The actions taken today by Chapecoense’s peer clubs are among the most admirable in the history of sports. Their collective decency in response to this tragedy are the deeds of genuine sportsmen. All athletic leagues, professional or amateur, should emulate the magnanimity, generosity of spirit, and sense of fair play that has been displayed by Brazil’s First Division.

If, God forbid, a similar tragedy ever takes place in American professional sports, I hope and I expect our major leagues to follow Brazilian Soccer’s example.

More broadly, I hope that the goodheartedness that has been displayed today in Brazil serves as a role model for people as they enter competitive enterprises in the coming weeks. Life is too short and too precious for pettiness.