Sports and politics

If you have a favorite sports team, you know how it is.  You’re rabidly, illogically devoted to them.  If a bad call is made, it’s always against your team.  You never acknowledge that your team got an advantage.  Though you might complain to other fans about your common team, you will NEVER let the opposition’s fans know your team is imperfect.

Yankees fan: What’s with the Mets making that trade?

Mets fan: (knowing the trade was awful) I think he’s got potential.  Just wait – this is going to be our year.

Yankees fan: Of course we win every year.  We’re just that good.

Mets fan: Of course they win all the time, they have ridiculous amounts of cash to spend on whoever they want.

When my son was about 9 years old, he dedicated his life to the New York Giants.  He’s the kind of kid that never wants to hurt anyone’s feelings.  He’s the kid that doesn’t want any one mad at him.  So we had to have a talk.

Me: You know, sports is the one place where people can kinda mean and insult each other and it’s okay.

Him: What do you mean?

Me: Well, some people are going to tell you the Giants stink.  And it’s okay.  You can even tell them their team stinks.

Him: confused look

Me: It’s okay, just be prepared.  Hating on the other team is part of the fun.

His first day at school wearing his Giants jersey was a big life lesson.  Within a few weeks, though, he learned to razz his teachers and classmates when the Giants won or their team didn’t.  He figured out that them picking on his team just made him more fiercely loyal.

That’s how it is with sports, and that works.  Because in the end, sports is a kind of entertainment.

It seems that some people take the same philosophy and apply it to politics.  They pick a team, put on the jersey, practice the cheer, and refuse to see any imperfections.  They hate their opponent with all the joy of booing a rival football team.

The difference is that politics shouldn’t be entertainment.  It should be about what you truly want for your country or state or city.  It shouldn’t be about all the “cool players” being on your team.  It should be about what they’re planning to do.

Too many of us pick a team because one person is charming or another is snooty, or someone else has an annoying voice, or someone associates with someone we don’t like.

He’s dishonest.  She’s stupid.  He’s a crook.  She cheats.  He doesn’t speak well.  Worse, he belongs to this, that, or the other ethnic group or demographic.  Let’s not forget blind party affiliations.

Before going any further with character analysis, how about asking some important questions.

What are their goals?

How do they plan to achieve them?

Do I think, based on what I know and read and hear from experts, that this plan will work?

Do I agree with the goal in the first place?

If you plan to support a particular leader based on soundbites, character assassination, or personality, I suggest you look deeper.  Think about the issues.  Form some opinions FIRST.  Then find out whose goals most closely matches your beliefs.

Save your undying loyalty for the soccer finals.

The sacred duty of electing a leader of our country deserves a bit more consideration.



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Political non-negotiables

Americans are very focused on the things that separate us as the presidential election of 2016 approaches.  We have party labels and identify ourselves as “followers” or “supporters” of one candidate or another.

Not so long ago the differences between parties and even candidates were strategic and philosophical.  You could agree to disagree with a member of a different party or someone sporting a different bumper sticker, because supporting one or the other didn’t define you. That seems to no longer be the case, and it’s making us hate each other.

There are issues where I have opinions that I know are different from others, but I don’t hate others for holding them.  In fact, I understand their way of thinking, I just don’t share it.  People disagree on how our government can best serve us, and that’s what makes America what it is.

Here are the non-negotiables:

  • No human being should have their rights infringed upon because of their skin color, belief or non-belief in any deity, the expression of their romantic love for any consenting adult, their gender, biological or otherwise, their competency at speaking English, their financial resources, their level of formal education or their physical ability.  Unalienable human rights are endowed to ALL of us.  Whether you like the way we live or not.
  • The earth needs to be respected.  Pollution – air, water, and land – is fouling up the planet that we live on.  I don’t care if you believe in climate change or not.  We can NOT back down from polluters.  They need to be stopped or nothing else matters.
  • Violence should ALWAYS be a last resort.  Whether you are protecting your property against a burglar, whether our military is establishing order in a foreign land, whether a law enforcement officer is preventing a crime or detaining a suspect, whether your team wins the championship, whether someone cuts you off in traffic, whether an umpire calls a strike on your child when it was clearly a ball.  Hitting, stabbing, kicking, beating, shooting, bombing – should be avoided whenever there is ANY other option.
  • Children in the richest country in the world should not go hungry, unsheltered, uneducated, or unprotected from violence.  I don’t care if their parents are lazy.  I don’t care if their parents are convicted felons.  I don’t care if their parents have addictions.  I don’t care if their families have abandoned them.  I don’t care if their families have work visas.  If we have the audacity to call ourselves a civilized society, we protect our young.  Just like every other mammal in the animal kingdom.  And this same mercy should be extended to children from other countries who need protection and care.
  • People of any age need safe housing and nourishing food.  We have plenty.  Really plenty.  There is no reason to keep so much more than we need knowing that some are starving and homeless.

We can argue all day long about how to spend tax money, how much to tax, how to treat our allies, how to treat our enemies, etc, etc.  If we do not hold ourselves to some degree of ethics, we have lost all that has ever been good in the United States.


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