Rivalry between competing businesses is not uncommon. Some would even say such competition is good for the consumer and the economy. But the rivalry that runs between these shoes companies (pun intended) is a whole different kind. And it’s not healthy.
Adolph (“Adi”) and Rudolph (“Rudi”) Dassler were brothers who ran the Dassler Brothers Sports Shoe Company out of their mother’s laundry room. Then World War II came along. As the Allies bombed their little town of Herzogenaurach, Rudi and his wife were hiding in a bomb shelter. As Adi and his wife came running into the same bomb shelter, he said, ““The dirty b_____s are back again.” Adi was referring to the Allied bombers, but Rudi assumed the slur was addressed to him.
Sibling rivalry was not born at the point. It had already been brewing. It didn’t help that the wives didn’t like each other. But everything from that point on was viewed with suspicion and accusation. By 1948, they had had enough of each so they split the company.
- Adi combined his first and last names and called his company Adidas
- Rudi chose a name that he considered athletic sounding: Puma
Sibling rivalry is nothing new; it goes back to the first two siblings: Cain and Abel. But we shouldn’t dismiss sibling rivalry as “that’s just the way siblings are.” We were not meant to live in broken relationships—whether it’s between siblings, spouses, co-workers, or anybody.
Broken relationships hurt more people than just the two individuals. The rivalry between the Dassler brothers affected their families—and the whole town. Nearly everyone in the town worked for one of the two companies.
- Local business would cater to one shoe company but not the other.
- Families would not allow the kids to date or marry someone whose family worked for the other shoe company.
- Herzogenaurach became “the town of bent necks.” Townspeople would look at your shoes to determine whether they should talk to you or not.
I wonder what the brothers could have accomplished had they resolved their differences. Rudi and his team were better at sales, but Aldi had the technical know-how and relationships with athletes. Instead, they were too busy fighting to see a threat growing from a small company called Nike.
They could’ve learned from two other brothers. Jacob and Esau also had a long-standing rivalry that spilt their families. But an encounter with God and a dose of humility brought them back together (Gen. 33:1-11).
If you’re in a broken relationship, take a dose of humility and forgive the other person. Even if the relationship is beyond restoring to what it once was, you can still forgive.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).
This post supports the study “Redeemed From Broken Relationships” in Bible Studies for Life.