Separation of Sports and State

By Art Stevens

Hi, Mr. Politician. Welcome to the sports section. Thank you for accepting my invitation. I wanted to give you an idea of how disagreements and arguments are handled by sports fans. Are they as loud, passionate, and opinionated as the arguments you have in the House and in the Senate? I would say, if anything, even more so. Sports fans love arguing about the comparative merits of their favorite teams, players, managers, etc. For example, who was the best center fielder of all time? Willie Mays? Mickey Mantle? Joe DiMaggio? I happen to think that Willie was not only the best center fielder of all time but that he was the best baseball player of all time. Many of my friends are Yankee fans, and they insist that Mickey was the best center fielder.

We can yell and scream, quote records, and who knows what else, to try to show that OUR man is the best, but at the end, as strongly as I feel about Willie, I am not stupid enough to think that Mickey should not be considered. He has lots of backers, and I have enough respect for them as knowledgeable baseball fans that I would not even think of excluding him in any vote or count we might make. This is a little like it is in your field, Mr. Politician. If the “Willie” people outnumbered the “Mickey” people 99-1 (or vice-versa), the outcome would be pretty obvious. Willie wins! But most votes are NOT 99-1. When YOU vote on a bill, it is more likely to be 50-50, 60-40, or at least close to that.

Do you realize how many millions of people are represented by that minority vote? Do they get absolutely NO say in the determination of that vote? We all know that the majority is going to have MORE say because of their numbers, but that is why we have elections. If you refuse to budge on your position, everything comes to an abrupt halt and half of our population is satisfied. Half is not. I believe passionately that Willie was a better all-around player than Mickey. Can I live in a world that might be 50% on the Mickey side? Darn right I can! You see, I have an advantage. I have a great deal of respect for my fellow sports fans, and I KNOW Mickey was a great ball player, which brings me to a point where common sense comes into the equation. If I had to put percentages on it, I certainly wouldn’t make Willie 100%. Do you see a little picture forming here, Mr. Politician? The word is “COMPROMISE,” and it comes at least partly from respect for your counterpart on the other side and not thinking he is 100% wrong if he does not agree with you 100%.

Our country, and the world, is going through a rough time right now. Should this be a time for our politics to be alienating half of our population? Look back to before these rough times. Look back to our very beginnings and then through to the 21st century. Both sides of the aisle ALWAYS fought like cats and dogs. Both sides believed fervently in what they were proposing, but the politicians through those years were able to compromise enough to move on — and I think you might agree that we have had a pretty good 200 plus years.

Don’t you see, Mr. Politician, that your opinion on an issue is my “Willie,” which means that you are not automatically 100% right and that there is no other credible point of view. If I were voting on this sporting issue, sure I would vote for Willie- because yes, I DO think he was the best. But if we were at a standstill, I would certainly vote for a resolution of the issue that included both Willie and Mickey at least to some degree. And how would the American citizen best be served? By your saying, “Mickey 100% or nothing?” That would be just another version of “My way or the highway!” OR, A compromise on the issue that included a little of both. Don’t you realize that by ignoring the latter, you are telling approximately half of our population that they are completely wrong and they will not have ANY part of their thinking in YOUR bill?

Respectfully, Mr. Politician, I would say that you could LEARN from the true sports fan. At the end of any of his arguments, his mind is not changed on the issue. He is still going to have the same opinion on the issue that he had before, but through respect and understanding of the other side, we can leave, still friends, and live to argue another day.

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