I just love getting caught up in sports. Wearing the team colors. Screaming in the stands. Talking trash with the neighbor rivals. “Border Wars.”
It’s all about showing spirit and enjoying some great competition. It’s fun because we’ve simply assigned meaning to something that doesn’t really matter in order to celebrate the contest.
After all, there really aren’t consequences for the fans when that pointed-end prolate spheroid fails to reach the end zone on fourth down. Maybe a bruised ego or a lost bet but that’s where it ends.
Politics appears to be sport to some people. They think and talk like they’ve sent someone from their “team” to go beat up on the opposing side.
It’s all a big game to those people who got this bill passed or that earmark pushed through while trash talking the other party. The media has joined right in, reporting “another victory for the Democrats today” or “sequester cuts should be made to fall hardest on tea party districts” or “high gas prices endanger Democrats.”
Those are actual media quotes from mainstream news sources. (I should clarify: this from what “passes” as media these days). I think they encourage partisanship because they like watching the battle. It gives them something to report in the 24-7 news cycle.
At a town hall meeting last week, one of our best Kansas lawmakers told a standing room-only crowd that he was partisan and likened the fight in Washington to that of two sports teams squaring off.
The only problem is we’re all on the same side. Team USA.
We didn’t send a politician to Washington to beat up on others. We want them to make decisions that are in the best interest of our nation.
And the stakes aren’t just about who edges the pigskin past the goal line. Our well-being and standard of living are at stake, and the future of our country is threatened.
How many times have we heard that President Barack Obama or House Speaker John Boehner has threatened to take his ball and go home?
The sports mentality is taking things the wrong direction.
If you happen to work for a business, imagine if one department were pitted against another. If, say, baggage handlers were taking on the pilots at an airline, for example.
They would sabotage each other’s work, refuse to share common goals and consistently threaten to push back with their own objectives. Then imagine if the CEO or department heads weren’t overseeing what was in the best interest of the airline but were instead choosing sides to continue the fight. How long would this airline be competitive?
The gridlock would cause things to grind to a halt. Sounds familiar to me.
In politics, as modern technology and social media shrink the globe, our gridlock game gets played out in a world arena where all the real competitors are closely watching.
We do have representatives who rise above this to discuss specific issues and detail solutions, but unfortunately that’s not as hip to report or as likely to light up the Twittersphere. Oh, I get that legislators must pander to their base and play the game just to stay in a position to have the ability to accomplish anything.
It’s all part of the job. But let’s lose the sports rival approach to politics and stop stooping to the lowest level of media engagement. The trash-talking has progressed from name-calling to hateful spewing. And the news media follows, cameras rolling and microphones extended for each playground epithet.
Maybe the only appropriate use of football analogy in politics might be when you note that by the time they are retired for two years, 78 percent of National Football League players are bankrupt or under financial stress and consistently struggle with health issues.
That sounds familiar, too.
Freelance columnist Lori Allen writes in this space once a month.